Forced Marriage

Introduction: what is a forced marriage?

Swift recognises its commitment to provide support, safeguarding, security, and an environment where children and young people feel safe to talk about their experiences and ask for help.

 A forced marriage is where one or both people do not (or in cases of people with learning disabilities, cannot) consent to the marriage and pressure or abuse is used.

A forced marriage is not the same as an arranged marriage. In an arranged marriage the families take a leading role in choosing the marriage partner, but the marriage is entered into freely by both parties. Forced marriage is illegal in England and Wales.  It is an abuse of human rights and a form of domestic violence. Forced marriage cannot be justified on either religious or cultural grounds. Since February 2023, it has been a rime to carry out any conduct whose purpose is to cause a child to marry before their 18th birthday, even if violence, threats or another form of coercion is not used. This applies to non-binding, unofficial ‘marriages’ as well as legal marriages.

Parents who force their children or young people to marry often justify their behaviour as protecting them, building strong families and preserving cultural or religious traditions.

They often do not see anything wrong in their actions. Forced marriage cannot be justified on religious grounds; every major faith condemns it and freely given consent is a prerequisite of marriage for every religion.

While it is important to understand these motives, they should not be accepted as justification for denying them the right to choose a marriage partner.

Forced marriage should be recognised as a criminal offence, a form of domestic violence, a human rights abuse and for those under 18, child abuse.



This policy is relevant to all staff, learners and employers who use Swift’s services, along with anyone who visits the organisation.

Aim of this Policy

• Raise awareness of the issue of forced marriage to all

• Improve recognition and support for those who are victims of forced marriage

 • Support awareness raising and inform cross-institutional training needs

 • Engender a culture of openness without fear of discrimination

 • Develop a point of contact for staff and learners who is trained to provide support

Possible signs of someone who is victim to forced marriage:

The risks are present throughout the year, however there is a substantial increase in children being taken abroad to be married during the summer holidays.

  • absences from school
  • requests for extended leave
  • children / young people talking about long trips abroad to their family’s country of origin or talking about the upcoming holidays with fear
  • Change in behaviour,
  • Deterioration in mental health,
  • Deterioration in behaviour and / or attainment (and unexpected poor exam results),
  • Running away from home.


If a victim seeks help from, you:

✔ See the victim immediately in a secure and private place

 ✔ Insist on seeing the victim on their own – even if they attend with others

✔ Contact the FMU as soon as possible and give the victim the Unit’s details

✔ If an adult approaches you, do everything you can to persuade them to engage with the police. Engaging with the police will provide an opportunity for appropriate safety measures to be put in place to minimise risks.

✔ Do reassure confidentiality. Respect and recognise the individuals wishes,

✔ If a minor (under 18) you should refer to local Children’s Social Services and refer to local police Child Protection Unit if there is any suspicion that a crime has been or may be committed against a child.

 ✔ If the victim is a British National and is travelling overseas, give them the details of the nearest British High Commission or Embassy.

✘ DON’T speak to the individual’s family if you have concerns, this may put the individual at significant risk of harm

✘ DON’T rely on family or community members to act as an interpreter for you

✘ DON’T allow the individual to leave the premises with members of their family and community if you believe they may be in danger

 ✘ DON’T attempt to mediate between an individual and their family. Mediation can be extremely dangerous and can put the individual in grave danger.


Swift staff will be approachable and available to respond confidentially and effectively to any student who wants to talk.

Forced Marriage Unit

The FMU provides confidential information assistance to potential victims and concerned professionals.

It works with partners both in the UK and overseas to ensure that all appropriate action is taken to prevent a forced marriage from taking place – some instances this involves rescue and repatriation.

The Forced Marriage Unit is open: Monday – Friday 9.00am – 5.00pm

Call us on: 020 7008 0151 or email:

 Out of hours contact: 020 7008 1500.


Referral and Support

National Support Agencies 

National Domestic Violence Helpline 0808 200 247

NSPCC Child Protection Helpline 0808 800 5000

Southall Black Sisters 0208 571 9595

 Newham Asian Women’s Projec 0208 472 0528

Ashiana Project (London) 0208 539 0427

Ashiana Sheffield 0114 255 5740

Karma Nirvana 0800 5999 247

Henna Foundation (Cardiff) 029 2049 6920

Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO) 0207 920 6460

Respond (learning disabilities) 0207 383 0700

Forward (specifically for African women) 0208 960 4000

Shakti Women’s Aid (Edinburgh) 0131 475 2399

Men’s Advice Line 0808 801 0327

Author: Jayne Hipkiss


Review date 20/08/2023


Next review date: 19/08/2024

Authorisation by the Managing Director:


Name: Greg Morrall




Date: 20/07/2023