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Consultation on forced marriage opened

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Home Office, consultation, farced marriage, reporting, guidance effective, deadline January 2019The Home Office has opened a consultation on preventing and tackling forced marriage.

Forced marriage is when you face physical pressure to marry (for example, threats, physical violence or sexual violence) or emotional and psychological pressure (eg if you are made to feel like you are bringing shame on your family).

Forced marriage is illegal in England and Wales.

This includes:

taking someone overseas to force them to marry (whether or not the forced marriage takes place); and

marrying someone who lacks the mental capacity to consent to the marriage (whether they are pressured to or not).

Forcing someone to marry can result in a prison sentence of up to 7 years.

The consultation seeks people’s views about whether it is necessary to introduce a new legal mandatory reporting duty relating to cases of forced marriage and, if it is, what such a reporting requirement would look like.

It also seeks views on how the current guidance on forced marriage could be improved and strengthened.

There is currently a disparity between the estimated prevalence of forced marriage and the number of referrals to the police.

This consultation looks at ways in which the safeguarding response to this crime could be strengthened to improve protection for victims, ensure perpetrators are brought to justice, and ultimately help prevent forced marriage occurring in the first place.

The government wants to increase reporting, deter potential perpetrators and improve protections for victims, and is therefore exploring two options:

1) The possibility of introducing a new legal duty requiring health, education and social care professionals to report cases – for example someone who reports knowledge of or being involved in a forced marriage, where it is suspected or parties who may be at risk – in the hope that more cases being identified will mean more cases are investigated, resulting in more perpetrators being prosecuted.

2) Updating the following guidance, which the government published in 2014: Right to Choose: Multi -agency statutory guidance for dealing with forced marriage; and Multi-agency practice guidelines: handling cases of forced marriage.

The Home Office would like to hear from members of the public, in particular victims and survivors of forced marriage, those with expertise in the area of forced marriage, and relevant professionals.

The consultation, which only covers England and Wales, closes at 11pm on Wednesday, 23 January 2019.

The full details of the consultation can be found here.

To respond, click here.

If you re trying to stop a forced marriage or you need help leaving a marriage you have been forced into, click here to get help from the Forced Marriage Unit.

In an emergency, or if you feel threatened, call the police on 999.

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