Forced marriage to become a crime
Forced marriage will become a crime in England and Wales on Monday 16 June 2014. Dorset Police is encouraging those who believe they are victims or those who suspect an offence is about to take place to come forward and report it.
A forced marriage is where one or both people do not or, in cases of people with learning disabilities, cannot consent to the marriage and pressure or abuse is used.
Victims include people thought to be at potential risk of future forced marriage, those currently going through a forced marriage and those who have already been forced to marry.
The pressure put on people to marry against their will can be physical, including threats, actual physical violence and sexual violence, or emotional and psychological; for example when someone is made to feel like they’re bringing shame on their family. Financial abuse which can include taking your wages or not giving you any money can also be a factor.
Police Sergeant Neil Wright, of Bournemouth CID, said: “Forced marriage is an appalling and indefensible practice and is recognised in the UK as a form of violence against women and men. It is also a form of domestic/child abuse and a serious abuse of human rights.
“If you are being forced in to a marriage without consent, believe you are at risk of being taken overseas and being forced to marry, or you know someone who is – please have the confidence to come forward and contact Dorset Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
“We have officers trained to support victims and investigate these types of offences.
“If you don’t feel able to speak to the police then advice is also available from the Forced Marriage Unit or independent charity Karma Nirvana.”
In 2013, the Home Office and Foreign and Commonwealth Office Forced Marriage Unit gave advice or support to 1302 possible cases. Of these victims, 82 per cent were female and 18 per cent male. Cases were reported in 74 countries with the highest number from Pakistan and India.
Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, Martyn Underhill, said: “I welcome this new legislation and the need for Dorset Police to be aware of this issue. Research has shown that forced marriage can be a particular issue in areas with a low ethnic diversity such as Dorset, due to lack of knowledge among professionals.
“Dorset Police and Police and Crime Commissioner staff recently took part in a seminar to make them aware of the issues involved. This reassures me that should this crime come to light anywhere in the county it will be dealt with quickly and sensitively.”
Contact telephone numbers
101 (999 in an emergency)
Forced Marriage Unit
Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7008 0151
Email for outreach work: firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook: Forced Marriage page
Telephone: 0800 5999 247
Issued: 12 June 2014