Forced marriage – issues and remedies
Forced Marriage has been an issue in our society for generations but it is only in recent years that it has captured the attention of the wider public and our legislators resulting in the introduction of the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act on 25 November 2008. Today it is a problem more commonly recognised and, as a result of legislation, Miles & Partners is one of many organisations able and committed to helping those seeking to assist close relatives who are the victims of forced marriage, writes Dee Aktar.
Forced marriage is a marriage that takes place without the full and free consent of both parties. Force can include physical force, as well as being pressurised emotionally, being threatened or being a victim of psychological abuse.
In a situation where someone is being forced to get married or is already in a forced marriage, a Forced Marriage Protection Order could provide some protection.
Forced Marriage Protection Order
Forced Marriage Protection Orders were introduced by the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act on 25 November 2008. A Forced Marriage Protection Order contains legally binding conditions and directions, which need to be followed by the person trying to force someone into marriage. The aim of this order is to protect the person who has been or is being forced into marriage against their wishes. The Court can make an Order in an emergency so that protection is in place straight way.
Under section 63A(1), a forced marriage protection order made by a court may protect anyone:
being forced into marriage; from any attempt to be forced into marriage; or already forced into marriage.
It should be noted that forced marriages differ from arranged marriages. At least one spouse does not consent to the marriage and (section 63A(6)) there is some element of duress, which may be physical and/or emotional.
Under Section 63A(2), when making an forced marriage protection order, the court must consider all the circumstances of the case, including the need to secure the health, safety and wellbeing of the person to be protected.
A Forced marriage protection order can be made to suit individual circumstances. This means, the Court could order a person or persons to hand over another person’s passport or reveal their whereabouts for example.
A power of arrest could be attached to this order if there are threats of violence. This will help the police to arrest a person who does not obey the order and bring them to Court.
If an order is breached and it is proven in court, it can carry a prison sentence of up to 2 years.
Forced Marriage Unit
It is also possible to liaise with the Forced Marriage Unit in situation where someone has been through or is at risk of a forced marriage.
The Forced Marriage Unit is a joint initiative between the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the Home Office. The Forced Marriage Unit therefore, work with embassy staff abroad to rescue victims who may have been held captive, raped, forced into a marriage or into having an abortion.
In the UK, the Forced Marriage Unit assists actual and potential victims of forced marriage, as well as professionals working in the social, educational and health sectors.
If someone is suffering from violence from a family member or being threatened with violence, it is possible to make an application for a Non-Molestation Order under section 42 the Family Law Act 1996.
A Non-molestation Order can prohibit one party from harassing or being violent towards another. There is no legal definition of molestation and can include intimidation, harassment, threatening behaviour and violence. This may be a single act or a number of acts forming a pattern or behaviour, even though all of these acts when viewed in isolation may appear to be minor or trivial.
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.