Forced marriage becomes an offence

On Monday (16th June) forcing a person into a marriage was made a criminal offence and the Trust has received safeguarding advice from police colleagues on what to do if you suspect someone may be a victim.

Hundreds of people in the UK, some as young as 7 and old as 87, are forced into marriage each year, with 82% of victims being female.

The warning signs of forced marriage can include:

  • Self-harm/attempted suicide
  • accompanied to doctors or clinics
  • eating disorders
  • depression/ isolation
  • substance misuse
  • unwanted pregnancy
  • female genital mutilation.

This list is not exhaustive.

Practitioners may only have one chance to speak to a potential victim of forced marriage and therefore may only have one chance to save a life – so police have also provided guidance on what to do if that ‘one chance’ arises.

  • Take the issue seriously and recognise the potential risk of harm to the victim
  • See them on their own in a private place if possible where the conversation  cannot be  overheard
  • Gather as much information as possible about the victim – it may be the only opportunity
  • Remind them of their rights, i.e. that they have the right to enter into marriage with their full and free consent and the right to make decisions about their lives.

If you are worried about a patient or would like more information, please contact the Trust’s safeguarding team at or by phone 01234 243267.

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