Is there anything schools can do to protect students from forced marriage?

In a forced marriage, the person does not consent to the marriage and does not have the right to choose. This is very different from arranged marriage, which is the choice of many men and women and has been practised in the UK for centuries

Forced marriage is an horrific abuse of human rights and a serious form of domestic violence. The victim will often endure enormous emotional pressure and blackmail at the hands of the people they trust most. In some instances, this will be accompanied by physical violence. In the period immediately before a forced marriage, young victims are often kept from attending school, not allowed to see their friends, or locked in a room. If the marriage goes ahead, victims may experience sexual, physical and emotional abuse as well as more restrictions on their freedom to pursue education and fulfil their aspirations.

Sadly, we estimate that thousands of young people every year are victims of this practice. Often the people they confide in are their teachers and friends at school. It is vital that those people act on their concerns. There may only be one chance to help.

The Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) is the government’s one-stop-shop for casework, policy and outreach on forced marriage. It runs a public helpline, which offers support to victims and professionals dealing with cases. The unit’s experienced caseworkers help any victim in the UK and also British nationals who are at risk overseas. The FMU also conducts training and awareness-raising for pupils, teachers, and local authorities to equip them to handle cases and protect young people.

If you are concerned about a forced marriage do not wait until it is too late. Call the Forced Marriage Unit for confidential help and advice on 020 7008 0151. Or email on .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and visit the website at fco.gov.uk/forcedmarriage.

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