Raising awareness of forced marriage as school summer holidays start


The end of the school year should be a time for celebrating the end of exams and the start of six weeks of holiday. But East of England Chief Crown Prosecutor Jenny Hopkins warns that for some young people, it can be the start of a nightmare.

Ms Hopkins, the Crown Prosecution Service's Violence Against Women and Girls Champion said: "The start of the long summer holidays can be a time when young people are taken abroad and forced into a marriage against their wishes. In 2015, more than a quarter of victims of forced marriage were under 18 years old.

"For some young people they think they are going on a family holiday, only to find out when they arrive that a marriage has been planned and, in some cases, violence is used to make them take part.

"This week, as schools start to break up, the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU), jointly run by the Home Office and the Foreign Office, is raising awareness through social media that young people have the right to choose who they marry, when they marry or even if they want to marry at all.

"Forced marriage is illegal in England and Wales and it includes taking someone overseas, sometimes by deception, to force them to marry, whether or not the forced marriage takes place.  People can be forced into marriage in different ways: through threats, physical violence or sexual violence, or through emotional or psychological pressure, such as being told you're bringing shame on your family.

"This is not just happening to one or two people; in 2015, the FMU gave advice or support related to a possible forced marriage in 1,220 cases.

"Once abroad, victims are often even more isolated than they might have been in the UK and getting help is more difficult. That is why it is so important for young people to know what to do to protect themselves before they travel and to be reassured that there is help for them with tools like a Forced Marriage Protection Order.

"To perpetrators of forced marriage we say that these crimes are treated seriously and last year, the first person to be convicted of a forced marriage and related offences was sentenced to 16 years' imprisonment."

  •  If you, or someone you know, is at risk of a forced marriage you can contact the FMU Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm on 020 7008 0151 or from overseas +44 (0)20 7008 0151; email fmu@fco.gov.uk. Out of hours call 020 7008 1500 (ask for the Global Response Centre) or in an emergency dial 999.




1. Forced marriage was criminalised under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. This came into force on 16 June 2014.

2 .For CPS legal guidance on forced marriage and Forced Marriage Protection Orders click HERE.

3.  Links to social media:


4. The UK's dedicated Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) leads efforts to combat it both at home and abroad. Jointly run by the Home Office and the Foreign Office, the FMU provides assistance including safety planning to prevent forced marriages (both in the UK and abroad), supporting victims to return from overseas, and in extreme circumstances rescuing victims held against their will overseas.

5. In 2015, the FMU handled cases relating to 67 countries to which a victim was at risk of, or had already, been taken to in connection with a forced marriage. The five highest volume countries in 2015 were:

  • Pakistan: 539 cases (44%).
  • Bangladesh: 89 cases (7%).
  • India: 75 cases (6%).
  • Somalia: 34 cases (3%).
  • Afghanistan: 21 cases (2%).

6. Statistics from the FMU:

  • In 2015, the FMU gave advice or support related to a possible forced marriage in 1,220 cases.
  • In 2015, 27% of victims were aged under 18; 35% aged between18-35; 20% were male and 2% LGBT.
  • In 2015, the FMU supported forced marriage victims in all nine regions of the UK, as well as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • Over 1,000 Forced Marriage Protection Orders have been made to prevent people from being forced into marriage and to assist in repatriating victims.