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4.9 Forced Marriages and Honour Based Violence

RELEVANT GUIDANCE

See the government guidance updated in June 2014 entitled The Right to Choose: Multi Agency Statutory Guidance for Dealing with Forced Marriage and Multi-agency practice guidelines: Handling Cases of Forced Marriage.

Further advice can be sought from the Forced Marriage Unit at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office which provides information and practice guidelines for professionals protecting, advising and supporting victims

The government guidance to local authorities and third parties in applying for Forced Marriage Protection Orders - for further information, see Section 1.2, Legal Position.

Protocol on the handling of ‘so-called’ Honour Based Violence/Abuse and Forced Marriage Offences between the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the Crown Prosecution Service

AMENDMENT

In September 2017, this chapter was updated with further detail on risks and indicators to reflect relevant points from the ‘Protocol on the handling of ‘so-called’ Honour Based Violence/Abuse and Forced Marriage Offences between the National Police Chief’s Council and the Crown Prosecution’ (November 2016).


Contents

1. Forced Marriage
  1.1 Definition
  1.2 Legal Position
  1.3 Information, Record Keeping and Confidentiality
  1.4 Referrals
  1.5 The Role of Children's Social Work Services
  1.6 The Role of the Police
  1.7 Intervention
2. Honour Based Violence
  2.1 Introduction
  2.2 Recognition
  2.3 Disclosure and Response
3. Accessing Information from Abroad
4. Further Sources of Support


1. Forced Marriage

1.1 Definition

1.1.1 There is a clear difference 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 of whether or not to accept the arrangement remains with the young people.
1.1.2 A forced marriage is one where one or both spouses do not consent to the marriage or the consent is obtained under duress. Duress can include physical, psychological, financial, sexual and emotional pressure. Forced Marriage is an abuse of human rights and, where a child is involved, an abuse of the rights of the child.

1.2 Legal Position

1.2.1 The definition of domestic abuse is 'any criminal offence arising out of physical, sexual, psychological, emotional or financial abuse by one person against a current or former partner in a close relationship, or against a current or former family member.’ A forced marriage could constitute a form of Domestic Abuse.
1.2.2 Sexual intercourse without consent is rape regardless of whether it occurs within a marriage or not. In addition, the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007, which was implemented in November 2008, makes provision for protecting children, young people and adults from being forced into marriage without their full and free consent (through Forced Marriage Protection Orders).
1.2.3

Anyone threatened with forced marriage or forced to marry against their will can apply for a Forced Marriage Protection Order. Such an order can be granted to prevent a marriage occurring or, where a forced marriage has already taken place, to offer protective measures. Orders may contain prohibitions (e.g. to stop someone from being taken abroad), restrictions (e.g. to hand over all passports and birth certificates and not to apply for a new passport), requirements (e.g. to reveal the whereabouts of a person or to enable a person to return to the UK within a given timescale) or such other terms as the court thinks appropriate to stop or change the conduct of those who would force the victim into marriage. A power of arrest may be added where violence is threatened.

Fifteen County Courts have been designated to deal with applications, including the Birmingham Family Courts.

Third parties such as relatives, friends, voluntary workers and police officers can apply for a protection order with the leave of the Court. Since 1 November 2009, local authorities can apply for a protection order for an Adult at Risk or child without the leave of the court.

For further advice and information about how to make such an application, see the guidance for local authorities on applying for Forced Marriage Protection Orders published by the Ministry of Justice in May 2012.

The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 made it a criminal offence, with effect from 16 June 2014, to force someone to marry. This includes:

  • Taking someone overseas to force them to marry (whether or not the forced marriage takes place);
  • Marrying someone who lacks the mental Capacity to consent to the marriage (whether they’re pressured to or not).

Breaching a Forced Marriage Protection Order is also now a criminal offence. The civil remedy of obtaining a Forced Marriage Protection Order through the family courts, as set out above, continues to exist alongside the criminal offence, so victims can choose how they wish to be assisted.

Forcing someone to marry can result in a sentence of up to 7 years in prison.

Disobeying a Forced Marriage Protection Order can result in a sentence of up to 5 years in prison.

1.3 Information, Record Keeping and Confidentiality

1.3.1 It is important for any professional to obtain as much information as possible when a child or young person is first reported as at risk of a forced marriage, as there may not be another opportunity. A record should be taken of the young person's immediate personal details and the family details including:
  • Name;
  • Nationality, first language and fluency in English;
  • Date and place of birth;
  • Parents’ names and address;
  • Passport details;
  • School or employment details; and
  • Full details of the concerns, including details of any threats or hostile actions against the young person.

A record should also be made of the details of the person sharing the information, including contact details and their relationship to the young person.

1.3.2 It is imperative that family members are not informed about the concerns, as there will be ongoing safety issues for the young person, unless the young person is in agreement and does not think this will further compromise his/her safety.
1.3.3 All agencies should take particular care to ensure that their members of staff do not:
  • Use family members, friends, neighbours or community leaders as interpreters;
  • Send the young person back to the family home against their wishes;
  • Approach the young person's family or friends or others within the young person's community without the young person's explicit consent;
  • Notify the family in advance of enquiries;
  • Attempt to mediate between the young person and the family except at the young person's specific request;
  • Breach the young person's confidentiality, unless this is necessary to ensure their safety.
1.3.4 The young person should be interviewed in a secure and private place, on their own. They may want to be seen by a person of their own gender, and they may want to talk to someone from their own community - or to avoid talking to someone from their own community. Communication should be facilitated in the young person's preferred language.
1.3.5 The person interviewing the young person should:
  • Discuss the range of options available to them and the possible consequences of each course of action;
  • Advise them of the appropriate services which they may access to support them in seeking legal advice and on-going support;
  • Develop a “cover story” - a plausible alternative reason for the young person to be in contact with the professional.
1.3.6 At all times confidentiality and discretion are vitally important.
1.3.7 Information about the young person and their whereabouts must be kept confidential. Access should preferably be restricted to named members of staff. This includes both paper-based and computer records.
1.3.8 Before making any enquiries, the worker should consider whether there is a risk that the family will become aware that these enquiries are being made.
1.3.9 The worker must think very carefully about the need to disclose information and to whom it may be disclosed. Disclosure may lead to the young person's estrangement from the family and increase the risk of Significant Harm to the young person.
1.3.10 When considering disclosure of confidential information to another person or agency, the young person should be informed, the reasons explained, and their consent sought.
1.3.11 Workers should be aware that some families will stop at nothing to find the young person, and often private investigators have been used to do this.
1.3.12 When arranging to see the young person, thought should be given to where and when this should happen, for example, if the young person is coming to an office, consider arranging the appointment out of hours to minimise risks to the safety of the young person.
1.3.13 Female Genital Mutilation may also be a factor in cases of forced marriage. See also Female Genital Mutilation Procedure.
1.3.14 Circumstances can change quickly and increase the risk to the victim and any friends/family members supporting the victim - especially following a disclosure to the police. Perpetrators may respond by moving the victim or bringing forward a forced marriage.
1.3.15

Perpetrators will use controlling and coercive methods to control the victim.

Women, men and younger members of the family can all be involved in perpetrating the abuse. Offences that may be committed include; common assault, grievous bodily harm, harassment, false imprisonment, kidnap, threats to kill and murder. There may be instances of child trafficking.
1.3.16

Perpetrators may take victims abroad for the purpose of forced marriage, under the pretext of a family holiday, a wedding or illness of a grandparent/family member.

Warning signs that a child or young person may be at risk of forced marriage or may have been forced to marry may include:

  • Extended absences from school/college, truancy, drop in performance, low motivation, excessive parental restriction and control of movements and history of siblings leaving education early to marry;
  • A child talking about an upcoming family holiday that they are worried about, fears that they will be taken out of education and kept abroad;
  • Evidence of self-harm, treatment for depression, attempted suicide, social isolation, eating disorders or substance abuse;
  • Evidence of family disputes/conflict, domestic violence/abuse or running away from home;
  • Unreasonable restrictions such as being kept at home by their parents (’house arrest’) or being unable to complete their education;
  • A child being in conflict with their parents;
  • A child going missing/running away;
  • A child always being accompanied including to school and doctors’ appointments;
  • A child directly disclosing that they are worried s/he will be forced to marry;
  • Contradictions in the child’s account of events.

See also the Multi-agency Practice Guidelines on Forced Marriage Chart of Potential Warning Signs or Indicators.

1.4 Referrals

1.4.1 Forced marriage involves complex and sensitive issues; where information is available to any agency which gives rise to concerns about a forced marriage involving a child or young person under 18, which indicates that s/he may be at risk of Significant Harm now or in the foreseeable future, a referral should be made to Children’s Social Work Services in accordance with the Making Referrals to Children's Social Care Procedure.

1.5 The Role of Children’s Social Work Services

1.5.1 Cases of forced marriage involve complex and sensitive issues; any such case which involves a young person under 18 should be dealt with in accordance with the Making Referrals to Children's Social Care Procedure and Strategy Discussions Procedure.
1.5.2 If the young person is in immediate danger, it may be necessary to consider admission to local authority accommodation, applying for an Emergency Protection Order or using Police Protection or Forced Marriages Protection Order. In this situation, it is not appropriate to rely on the extended family to provide a place of safety unless the young person can identify a relative in whom they have absolute trust. It may be necessary to place the young person outside their community and in a different local authority area. Procedures in respect of Emergency Protection Orders can be found in the Social Work Procedures.
1.5.3 In responding to the referral, a full family history must be taken to consider any forced marriage and abuse of any other member of the family. Guidance for professionals protecting, advising and supporting victims can be found at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Website.
1.5.4 Children’s Social Work Services must:
  • Make a detailed record of any reported history of abuse;
  • Note any injuries reported;
  • If appropriate, arrange a medical examination;
  • Assess the risk of harm - risk factors include a family history of forced marriage and abuse, a secret boy/girlfriend, pregnancy, and self harming;
  • Give the child or young person advice on personal safety;
  • Consider the possible need for immediate protection and placement away from the family;
  • Consider the safety of any other child and act accordingly;
  • Inform the Police - see Section 1.6, The Role of the Police.

1.6 The Role of the Police

1.6.1 Forced marriage involves criminal offences. A person fleeing a forced marriage, or the threat of a forced marriage, should be referred to the police.
1.6.2 If the person is under 18, the police will:
  • Refer to the Child Abuse Investigation Unit;
  • Inform Children’s Social Work Services so as to consider the need for an Social Work Assessment or a Strategy Discussion;
  • Check if the child is the subject of a Child Protection Plan;
  • Ensure that an appropriate adult is in attendance at all interviews - members of the extended family are not appropriate in this situation.

1.7 Intervention

1.7.1 If the young person wishes to remain in the family home it is essential to devise a way of contacting them discreetly without placing them at increased risk of harm. This should include a code word to ensure that contact has been made with the right person. 
1.7.1.1 A safety plan should be put in place with the young person; looking at how to raise the alarm if there are concerns about increased risk to safety; having access to emergency money; having an escape plan.
1.7.1.2 Consideration should be given to the possibility that written communications may be intercepted and that telephone communications may be detected, for example, through the phone bill.
1.7.2 A young person who wishes to leave the family home will need a leaving strategy and support package.
1.7.3 A young person may be going on a family holiday overseas and suspect that they will be forced to marry. Any such concerns should be taken seriously, but the arrangement of an extended holiday should not be assumed to imply that a forced marriage is planned. As much of the following information as possible should be gathered so that action can be taken, if necessary. 
  • Any addresses where the young person may be staying while overseas;
  • Potential spouses name;
  • Date of proposed wedding;
  • Addresses of extended family members in UK and overseas;
  • Details of travel plans, including estimated return date, and people likely to accompany the young person.
1.7.3.1 The person interviewing the young person should:
  1. Keep a separate note of their passport number and the date and place of issue;
  2. Give the young person the address and phone number of the British Embassy in the country to which they are travelling;
  3. Establish a safe means to make contact with the young person, e.g. a mobile phone that will work overseas;
  4. Encourage the young person to memorise at least one telephone number and email address;
  5. Ask the young person for details of a trusted person in the UK with whom they will keep in contact whilst overseas, who will act on their behalf and who can be approached if they do not return;
  6. Take a written statement from the young person that they want the social worker (or another person) to act on their behalf if they do not return by a certain date;
  7. Ask the young person to make contact without fail on their return;
  8. Record some information that only the young person will know - this may help later in confirming their identity.
1.7.3.2 If there is a clear risk of forced marriage, and the risk is imminent, it may be necessary to take emergency action to remove the young person from home in order to protect them.
1.7.4

Young people who leave home to escape a forced marriage or the threat of one face particular difficulties. Agencies may be criticised for providing support and protection to a young person who has run away from home, and for failing to share information about the young person's whereabouts with the family.

The first consideration must be for the young person's safety and welfare.
1.7.4.1 Any young person who has run away from home should be interviewed on their own to establish why they ran away. Issues related to forced marriage may come to light at this time. If the young person is at risk of being forced into a marriage, it may not be in their best interests to disclose any information to their family, friends, or members of their community until their continued safety has been secured.
1.7.5 Further advice can be sought from the Forced Marriage Unit at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.


2. Honour Based Violence

The following two sections are based on information from the London Child Protection Procedures.

2.1 Introduction

2.1.1 Honour based violence is the term used to describe ‘murder, rape, kidnap and many other acts, behaviour and conduct which make up violence in the name of so-called honour’ (ACPO, 2008). Honour based murders are sometimes called 'honour killings'. These are murders in which predominantly women are killed for perceived immoral behaviour, which is deemed to have breached the honour code of a family or community, causing shame.
2.1.2

The National Police Chief’s Council definition of so-called honour based violence is:

”An incident or crime, involving violence or threats of violence, intimidation, coercion or abuse (including psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional abuse which has or may have been committed to protect or defend the honour of an individual, family or community for alleged or perceived breaches of the family and/or community code of behaviour.”

For young victims it is a form of child abuse and a serious abuse of human rights.
2.1.3 Professionals should respond in a similar way to cases of honour based violence as with domestic violence and forced marriage, that is in facilitating disclosure, developing individual safety plans, ensuring the child's safety by according them confidentiality in relation to the rest of the family, and completing individual risk assessments where appropriate. Online targeting of victims is being used more frequently as a means of controlling and exploiting them.

2.2 Recognition

2.2.1 A child who is at risk of honour based violence is at significant risk of physical harm (including being murdered) and/or neglect, and children may also suffer significant emotional harm through the threat of violence or witnessing violence directed towards a sibling or other family member. Women, men and younger members of the family can all be involved in the abuse.
2.2.2 Honour based violence cuts across all cultures and communities. Cases encountered in the UK for example, have involved families from Turkish, Kurdish, Afghani, South Asian, African, Middle Eastern, South and Eastern European and Irish communities. This is not an exhaustive list.

2.2.3

Behaviour which may be perceived as immoral and which could, therefore, precipitate honour based violence includes:

  • Inappropriate make-up or dress;
  • The existence of a boyfriend;
  • Kissing or intimacy in a public place;
  • Rejecting a forced marriage;
  • Pregnancy outside of marriage;
  • Being a victim of rape;
  • Inter-faith relationships;
  • Leaving a spouse or seeking divorce;
  • Alcohol and drugs use.
It is important to be mindful that young people may be subject to honour based violence for reasons which may seem improbable or relatively minor to others.
2.2.4 Murders in the name of 'so-called honour' are often the culmination of a series of events over a period of time and are planned. There tends to be a degree of premeditation, family conspiracy and a belief that the victim deserved to die.

2.2.5

Incidents, in addition to those listed above, which may precede a murder include:

  • Physical abuse;
  • Emotional abuse, including:
    • House arrest and excessive restrictions;
    • Denial of access to the telephone, internet, passport and friends;
    • Threats to kill.
  • Pressure to go abroad. Victims are sometimes persuaded to return to their country of origin under false pretences, when in fact the intention could be to kill them.

There may be evidence of domestic abuse, including controlling, coercive and dominating behaviour towards the victim. Self-harming, family disputes, and unreasonable restrictions on the young person such as removal from education or virtual imprisonment within the home may occur.

Young people may be fearful of being forced into engagement/marriage.

Other warning signs may be FGM, sexual abuse and forced marriage (see Female Genital Mutilation Procedure and Forced Marriages and Honour Based Violence Procedure).
2.2.6 Children sometimes truant from school to obtain relief from the experience of being policed at home by relatives. They can feel isolated from their family and social networks and become depressed, which can on some occasions lead to self-harm or suicide.
2.2.7 Families may feel shame long after the incident that brought about dishonour occurred, and therefore the risk of harm to a child can persist. This means that the young person's new boy/girlfriend, baby (if pregnancy caused the family to feel 'shame'), associates or siblings may be at risk of harm.

2.3 Disclosure and Response

2.3.1 When receiving a disclosure from a child, professionals should recognise the seriousness / immediacy of the risk of harm.
2.3.2 For a child to report to any agency that they have fears of honour based violence in respect of themselves or a family member requires a lot of courage and trust that the professional / agency they disclose to will need to respond appropriately. Specifically, under no circumstances should the agency allow the child's family or social network to find out about the disclosure, so as not to put the child at further risk of harm.
2.3.3 Authorities in some countries may support the practice of honour-based violence, and the child may be concerned that other agencies share this view, or that they will be returned to their family. The child may be carrying guilt about their rejection of cultural / family expectations. Furthermore, their immigration status may be dependent on their family, which could be used to dissuade them from seeking assistance.

2.3.4

Where a child discloses fear of honour based violence the professional response should include:

  • Seeing the child immediately in a secure and private place;
  • Seeing the child on their own;
  • Explaining to the child the limits of confidentiality;
  • Asking direct questions to gather enough information to make a referral to children's social care and the police, including recording the child's wishes;
  • Encouraging and/or helping the child to contribute to a risk assessment;
  • Developing an emergency safety plan with the child;
  • Agreeing a means of discreet future contact with the child;
  • Explaining that a referral to Children's Social Work Services and the police will be made (see Making Referrals to Children's Social Care Procedure);
  • Record all discussions and decisions.

2.3.5

Children's Social Work Services should address issues of safety planning as well as risk assessment in their Social Work Assessments, and take particular care in relation to information sharing.

They will need to consider the need to:

  • Develop individual safety plans;
  • Ensure the child's safety by according them confidentiality in relation to the rest of the family;
  • Completing individual risk assessments where appropriate.

When arranging to see the young person, thought should be given to where and when this should happen, for example, if the young person is coming to an office, consider arranging the appointment out of hours to minimise risks to the safety of the young person.

The person interviewing the young person should:

  • Discuss the range of options available to the young person and the possible consequences of each course of action;
  • Advise them of the appropriate services which they may access to support them in seeking legal advice and on-going support;
  • Develop a “cover story” - a plausible alternative reason for the young person to be in contact with the professional;
  • Continual assessment and review is paramount as circumstances can change very quickly, for example, following disclosure to the police the risks to the victim and others who are supporting the victim may increase.

At all times confidentiality and discretion are vitally important. 

Information about the young person and their whereabouts must be kept confidential. Access should preferably be restricted to named members of staff. This includes both paper-based and computer records. Before making any enquiries, the worker should consider whether there is a risk that the family will become aware that these enquiries are being made.

The worker must think very carefully about the need to disclose information and to whom it may be disclosed. Disclosure may lead to the young persons estrangement from the family and increase the risk of Significant Harm to the young person. When considering disclosure of confidential information to another person or agency, the young person should be informed, the reasons explained, and their consent sought.
2.3.6 Professionals should not approach the family or community leaders, share any information with them or attempt any form of mediation. In particular, members of the local community should not be used as interpreters.
2.3.7 All multi-agency discussions should recognise the police responsibility to initiate and undertake a criminal investigation as appropriate.
2.3.8 Multi-Agency planning should consider the need for providing suitable safe accommodation for the child, as appropriate.
2.3.9

If a child is taken abroad, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office may assist in repatriating them to the UK. See also Section 3, Accessing information from Abroad, below.

Addressing the needs of the individual is key, as victims of honour-based violence will require a tailored response dependent on a number of factors including e.g. language and cultural barriers, how long they have been in the country, their social and family networks and their economic circumstances.


3. Accessing Information from Abroad

3.1 Professionals contributing to a multi-agency assessment of a child for whom relevant information is likely to be held abroad, should seek information from their respective counterpart agencies abroad (E.G. health professionals in the UK are responsible for retrieving health information from health professionals abroad).
3.2 Where an assessment is required of family or relatives' circumstances abroad, Children's Social Work Services should contact Children and Uniting Families Across Borders (CFAB) (formerly known as International Social Services).
3.3 Professionals should contact national embassies and consulates in London for the countries concerned. Embassy and consulate details are available via the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
3.4 Where local agencies abroad cannot assist in divulging information about a child and their family, UK professionals should seek assistance from Children and Uniting Families across Borders.


4. Further Sources of Support

Karma Nirvana

Karma Nirvana is a UK registered Charity that supports victims and survivors of Forced Marriage and Honour Based Abuse.

It aims to raise public awareness on the issues, and provides education through accredited training, including seminars, conferences and workshops.

It runs the National Honour Network Helpline where call handlers provide confidential listening support, options and guidance to all professionals, victims and survivors of honour based abuse. 

Helpline: 0800 599 9247

MixTogether is a charity that supports mixed couples (mixed race / religion / caste) who face opposition from family or community to their relationship.

IKWRO - The Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation provides advice and support to Middle Eastern women and girls living in the UK who are facing ‘honour’ based violence, domestic abuse, forced marriage or female genital mutilation.

National Domestic Violence Helpline - The Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge, is a national service for women experiencing domestic violence, their family, friends, colleagues and others calling on their behalf.

Helpline: 0808 2000 247
Email: helpline@womensaid.org.uk

Simrans Link - Simran’s Link is a community website to’ share views’ and link people in the situation of disownment. The specific connection to being disowned relates to the misplaced notions of ‘honour’ and ‘shame’. They view ‘disownment’ in this context as an act of abuse against the human rights of an individual. This website is to support, befriend, and offer a positive community to people affected in this way.

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