Forced marriage and honour-based abuse

Everyone has the right to freely choose who they should marry and pressure from parents or extended families should not be accepted as justification for denying a person the right to choose who they should marry. Forced marriage, not to be confused with an arranged marriage, is a breach of children’s rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as an abuse of human rights.

Parent's control of their children can often be in response to behaviour they think is unacceptable which can include sexual or lifestyle behaviour such as wearing make-up, entering into an ‘unsuitable’ relationship or engaging in any activity that would affect their ‘family honour’, cultural or religious ideals.

The government regards forced marriage as an abuse of human rights and a form of domestic abuse and, where it affects children and young people, child abuse. It can happen to both men and women although most cases involve young women and girls aged between 13 and 30. There is no ‘typical’ victim of forced marriage.

Many people who live in close knit communities have lots of support from within their own community but this support can act as a barrier to seeking help outside of this.

On occasions where someone has sought help and have experienced problems or inequalities in accessing services, their personal experiences can discourage others from seeking help.

People can struggle to cope alone and without the support of their community. Many women and some men, feel they have no option but to stay in an abusive relationship because they don’t know how to access financial support and are dependent on their spouse or partner.

There is no honour in committing these crimes. There is no shame in reporting these crimes.