A forced marriage is where two people marry without them both consenting to the marriage. There are two situations in which a forced marriage may arise. The first is when one party is unable to consent, for example, by virtue of a disability. The second is when one person has been forced into the marriage by another person.
A person may be forced into a marriage by pressure put upon them by a family member, someone in the community or the other party to the marriage. The pressure put upon that person may be physical, emotional or psychological. Physical pressure may include threats of violence or actual violence. The violence may or may not be sexual in nature. Emotional or psychological pressure may include accusations that the victim is bringing shame upon their family if they do not enter into the marriage. Financial pressure can also be placed on a victim, for example, taking or withholding money from the victim if they do not enter into the marriage.
We may be able to help you apply to the Court for a Forced Marriage Protection Order. A Forced Marriage Protection Order protects a person from being forced into a marriage or a person who has been forced into marriage. The Order may specify certain things – for example, that the respondent does not take you overseas to be forced into marriage. In many cases, an Order can be applied for on an urgent basis, without any notice to the respondent.
If you believe you are the victim of a forced marriage or believe you are about to become a victim of a forced marriage, help is available. At Brearleys we are used to dealing with the most sensitive of issues and you can trust that you will receive confidential, non-judgemental and helpful advice. It may even be that you are able to apply for a Forced Marriage Protection Order through the Courts. Equally, if you are concerned that someone you know is about to be forced into a marriage, you may be able to apply on their behalf. Legal Aid may be available to you to make such an application. In any circumstances, we would ask that you contact our Family team without delay so that you can receive the best advice from the outset.