Forced marriage and Honour based violence

also known as: Honour based violence.

Forced marriage andHonour based violence

Difference between forced marriage and arranged marriage

There is a clear distinction between a forced marriage and an arranged marriage, in arranged marriages, the families of both spouses take a leading role in arranging the marriage but the choice whether or not to accept the arrangement remains with the prospective spouses.

In forced marriage, one or both spouses do not (or, in the case of some vulnerable adults, cannot) consent to the marriage and duress is involved. Duress can include physical, psychological, financial, sexual, financial and emotional pressure.

All practitioners working with victims of forced marriage and honour-based violence need to be aware of the “one chance” rule. That is, they may only have one chance to speak to a potential victim and thus they may only have one chance to save a life.

This means that all practitioners working within statutory agencies need to be aware of their responsibilities and obligations when they come across forced marriage cases.

If the victim is allowed to walk out of the door without support, that one chance might be lost.

Honour based violence

The term “honour crime” or “honour-based violence” embraces a variety of crimes of violence (mainly but not exclusively against women), including assault, imprisonment and murder where their family or their community is punishing the person.

They are being punished for actually, or allegedly, undermining what the family or community believes to be the correct code of behaviour. In transgressing this correct code of behaviour, the person shows that they have not been properly controlled to conform by their family and this is to the “shame” or “dishonour” of the family.

Keeping a victim of forced marriage safe following a disclosure of Forced marriage

Whatever someone’s circumstances, the victim has rights that should always be respected such as personal safety and accurate information about their rights and choices.

Practitioners should listen to the victim and respect their wishes.

Disclosures of forced marriage should not be dismissed as merely a domestic issue – for many people, seeking help from an agency is a last resort and therefore all disclosures of forced marriage should be taken seriously.

Involving families in cases of forced marriage may increase the risk of serious harm to a person.

Useful contact details

Forced Marriage Unit

The United Kingdom Government has set up the Forced Marriage Unit to provide practical support, information and advice to anyone who 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.

Telephone 0207 008 0151.

Forced marriage multi-agency practice guidelines

The FMU has published a revised set of multi-agency practice guidelines for frontline professionals (such as teachers, police officers, social and health care professionals, housing officers) to help them to work more closely together and to better identify and protect children and adults at risk of forced marriage. The revised guidelines replace the existing individual guidelines, which were tailored for specific professionals and now brings these together into one document.

Multi-agency practice guidelines: Handling Cases of Forced Marriage [PDF, 503KB, 105 pages]

Karma Nirvana

Karma Nirvana's was established  in 1993 and has expanded and developed from a local to regional project to now being a national to international project in relation to forced marriage and honour based violence. Karma Nirvana not only supports women, but has expanded to also support men and couples.

Contact: 01332 347315

Honour Network

The Honour Network is a project designed to support victims and survivors of forced marriage and honour based violence.

0800 5999 247


A help line established by Cleveland Police which now includes Northumbria Police and Durham Constabulary that is staffed by specially trained staff where advice and support can be obtained in relation to forced marriage and honour based violence.

0800 5999 365