Forced Marriage Unit statistics 2020
20 September 2021 by Lucie Wilkinson
What is Forced Marriage?
‘A forced marriage is one in which one or both spouses do not (or, in the case of minors or some adults who lack the relevant mental capacity, cannot) consent to the marriage, and violence, threats, or any other form of coercion is involved’.
Although it is often thought that forced marriages occur within a certain country or religion they occur across all six continents. There are, however, unfortunately, ‘focus countries’ and within these countries the risk of forced marriage is increased. In 2020, other than the UK, the highest number of cases dealt with by the Forced Marriage Unit were in Pakistan (286 cases), Bangladesh (69 cases), India (44 cases), Afghanistan (30 cases) and Somalia (15 cases).
Forced Marriage Unit
The Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) was established in 2005 to lead on the Government’s forced marriage policy, outreach and casework. The FMU work with those who have been forced into marriage and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) victims who are overseas.
In 2020, the FMU gave advice or support in 759 cases relating to a forced marriage and/or a possible FGM, ‘this comprised 750 cases solely related to forced marriage, 3 cases related to both forced marriage and FGM, and 6 cases solely related to FGM’. The 759 cases in 2020 represents a 44% decrease on the average number of cases received annually between 2011 and 2019 (this being 1,359). It is thought that the coronavirus pandemic impacted these figures with the restrictions on weddings and travel. In the first month of lockdown in the UK, referrals to the FMU decreased, on average, from 82 cases between January to March 2020 to 44 cases between April to June 2020.
Statistics from 2020
Shockingly, there were:
- 199 cases of forced marriage that involved victims below 18 years of age
- 278 cases involving victims aged 18-25 years of age
- 66 cases involving victims with mental capacity concerns
- 603 cases involving female victims
- 156 cases involving male victims
Men are particularly represented in cases where the victim is LGBTQ+ (63% being men) or where the victim has mental capacity concerns (55% being men).
80% of cases the FMU had referred to them in 2020 were of victims who were in the UK at the time of referral. 7% of these had no overseas element, with the potential of actual forced marriage taking placed entirely within the UK.
For the first time, in 2020 the FMU recorded the nationalities of the victims they supported. ‘56% of victims (423 cases) were British nationals, including dual nationals and 33% (252 cases) were non-British nationals.’ The nationality of individuals who were unknown totalled 11% of cases (84 cases).
Status of the marriage
The FMU break down the status of a marriage into four categories:
- UK Pre (victim is in the UK and marriage is yet to take place)
- UK Post (victim is in the UK and the marriage has taken place)
- Overseas Pre (victim is overseas and the marriage is yet to take place)
- Overseas Post (victim is overseas and the marriage has taken place)
The FMU categorise the status of a marriage to be able to prioritise getting help to the victim who may need it first, such as a victim who is overseas and the wedding is imminent.
The earlier the FMU are contacted, the greater the number of options available to support the victim.
How do I get help?
If you believe that you, or someone you know, are being forced into a marriage or FGM, or would like further advice from the FMU, they operate a helpline from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday on +44 (0) 20 7008 0151. Outside of these hours you can contact them on 020 7008 5000 if you are in the UK for 24/7 assistance. You can email them at [email protected] or in writing to:
Forced Marriage Unit
Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
King Charles Street
The FMU does not record data on religion.
For more information you can access the FMU report on: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/forced-marriage-unit-statistics-2020/forced-marriage-unit-statistics-2020.
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