Professional, compassionate legal advice for forced marriages
Our forced marriage specialists can help you if you are being pressured into a marriage that you do not agree to. If you believe that you or someone that you know, is at risk of forced marriage then contact our specialist dedicated team who can advise and take steps to help.
Director Razia Jogi is a specialist in forced marriage. She is co-author of Forced Marriage: A Special Bulletin (Jordan Publishing, 2009), a text which provides an essential guide to the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007 for legal professionals and those working with victims and survivors of forced marriage.
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What is a forced marriage?
A forced marriage is a marriage in which one or both of the parties do not (or in the case of people with learning disabilities or reduced capacity, cannot) consent to and pressure and abuse is used to make a marriage happen.
The definition of force used by the Government includes physical, psychological, sexual, financial and emotional pressure as well as emotional and psychological abuse or harassment. Perpetrators of forced marriage deploy one of more of these types of abuse to override the will and consent of victims of forced marriage. Sadly in many cases the perpetrators of forced marriage are family members of the victim.
There is a clear difference between arranged marriages and forced marriages. In arranged marriages both parties consent to the assistance of family members or third parties such as a matchmaker, in finding a spouse. The participants give their full consent and enter a marriage willingly. There is no consent in a forced marriage and someone may not fully realise what is happening.
If someone lacks capacity to make their own decisions and you believe that they may be at risk of being forced into marriage then you should seek legal help.
I am worried about being forced to marry, what can I do?
If you are worried that you or someone that you know may be at risk of forced marriage then you can apply to the court for a Forced Marriage Protection Order, often referred to as a ‘FMPO’. Forced Marriage Protection Orders are granted by the courts to prevent a victim being forced into a marriage either in the UK or abroad. Orders can be obtained in relation to both civil and religious marriages.
All people have the freedom to choose whether they wish to enter a marriage or not. Some people may not realise that that what they are going through is a forced marriage. Some people may define their experiences as ‘what family expect’ rather than force or pressure. If you are unsure if you are in a force marriage situation then telephone in order to speak to one of the members of the Switalskis Family Team who will advise you. You can also find more information at www.gov.uk/forced-marriage
Breach of a Forced Marriage Protection Order is a criminal offence and is punishable by up to five years imprisonment.
Our specialists can help you obtain an FMPO, it is important that you speak to us as soon as you can. Our advice line is available 24 hours a day on 0800 138 5536 or you can contact us through the website.
Our Family Law Specialists
How do I pay for advice?
Legal Aid is available to make an application for a Forced Marriage Protection Order. Our specialist team can advise whether there are grounds for an application and whether you are eligible for Legal Aid. In the event that you are not eligible for Legal Aid then we will discuss with you the likely costs.
How can Switalskis help me?
We understand the severity of forced marriage and how they can negatively impact many aspects of life significantly. We provide a face-to-face, considerate service and it is best to contact us as soon as possible should you need advice concerning a forced marriage that you, or someone you know, may be at risk of.
Call us now on 0800 138 0458 to talk to a solicitor, or contact us through the website.