In 2018, the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) gave advice or support related to a possible forced marriage in 1,764cases. These figures include contact that has been made to the FMU in relation to a new case through the public helpline or by email and include general enquires.
Since 2012, the FMU has provided support to between approximately1,200 and approximately 1,400 cases per year. The number of cases in 2018represents a 47% increase compared with 2017and is the highest number since these statistics were first in the current format in 2011.Thisdoes not necessarily represent an increase in the prevalence of forced marriage in the UK.
There are other potential reason s for the increase in cases:
- A greater awareness of forced marriage being a crime and the support available, caused by:
- Two court cases which received significant amounts of media attention and resulted in prosecutions
- Wider media attention possibly raising awareness of forced marriage
- Launch of the Home Office communication campaign about forced marriage.
- An improved data recording process.
Of the cases that FMU provided support to:
- 574 cases (33%) involved victims below 18 years of age; and a further:
- 542 cases (31%) involved victims aged 18-25.
- 165 cases (9%) involved victims aged 26-30.
- 146 cases (8%) involved victims aged 31-40.
- 45 cases (3%) involved victims aged 41and over.
- In 17% of cases the age of the victims was unknown.
In 2018, the majority of cases -1,322 (75%) -involved women, with297cases (17%) involving men (gender in the remaining cases was unknown). These proportions are in line with previous years.
Forced marriage is not a problem specific to one country or culture. Since 2011, the FMU has handled cases relating to over 110countriesacross Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and North America.
In 2018, the FMU handled cases relating to 74‘focus1’ countries. The six countries with the highest number of cases in 2018were:
- India-110 cases(6%).
- Somalia2-46 cases (3%).
- Afghanistan -44 cases (3%).
- Romania -43 cases (2%).
The proportion of cases relating to Pakistan has increased by around 7% compared with the previous year. However, the proportion of cases relating to Pakistan in 2018 is stable compared to 2011-2016. After a large increase in 2017, the number of cases linked to Somalia has decreased. There has been a noticeable increase in cases linked to Romania. In 2018, the FMU provided support to43 such cases compared with29 across the whole period2011-2017.
In 2018, 119 cases (7%) had no overseas element, with the potential or actual forced marriage taking place entirely within the UK. This is a decrease compared with previous years, but continues to highlight that forced marriages can take place in the UK.
Forced Marriage Unit
The FMU operates a public helpline to provide advice and support to victims of forced marriage as well as to professionals dealing with cases. The assistance provided ranges from safety advice, through to helping a forced marriage victim prevent their unwanted spouse moving to the UK (‘reluctant sponsor’ cases). In extreme circumstances the FMU will assist with rescues of victims held against their will overseas.