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Forced marriage and ‘honour-based’ abuse: upholding the rights and freedoms of Sandwell people | Sandwell Council

Forced marriage and ‘honour-based’ abuse: upholding the rights and freedoms of Sandwell people

Published 18th May 2021

Sandwell Council and its community partners are here to help and advise anyone who thinks they are being forced into marriage, as well as those experiencing ‘honour-based’ abuse.

The council wants to make people aware that these issues are offences and that criminal action can be taken but, as part of Sandwell Domestic Abuse Strategic Partnership, it wants to prevent forced marriage or ‘honour-based’ abuse taking place by reaching out as early as possible to those at risk.

Everyone in Britain, whatever their religion or belief, has the right to choose who they want to marry and whether to get married: a marriage must be entered into with the full and free consent of both people; everyone involved should feel that they have a choice.

Sandwell Council and the Sandwell Domestic Abuse Strategic Partnership are committed to upholding these rights and freedoms. We are here to help everyone who thinks they are being forced into marriage, and to support those who are victims of ‘honour-based’ abuse.

What is forced marriage?

A forced marriage is where one or both people do not (or in cases of people with learning disabilities or reduced capacity, cannot) consent to the marriage as they are pressurised, or abuse is used, to force them to do so. Forced marriage is recognised in the UK as a form of domestic abuse or child abuse and a serious abuse of human rights.

The pressure put on people to marry against their will may be:
● physical: for example, threats, physical violence or sexual violence
● emotional and psychological: for example, making someone feel like they are bringing ‘shame’ on their family
● financial abuse: for example, taking someone’s wages, may also be a factor.

In some cases, people may be taken abroad without knowing that they are to be married. When they arrive in that country their passports may be taken by their family to try and stop them from returning home.

A forced marriage is not the same as an arranged marriage. In an arranged marriage the families take a leading role in choosing the partner and the marriage is entered into freely by both people.

‘Forced Marriage is Against the Law’ is a short animation telling the story of Aisha. It was produced by Muslim Women's Network UK (www.mwnhelpline.co.uk) and can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVPp3a2FWI8

‘Honour-based’ abuse

‘Married to the Streets’ is a video written, produced and starring young people from Sandwell. The video tells the story of Reshma, a young woman in love and what happens when her family find out through the community of her relationship. The video was made by Tipton Young Asian Women’s Forum in conjunction with Learnplay Foundation. View the video at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2WbHipQWh8

Councillor Farut Shaeen, Cabinet Member for Living Healthy Lives, said: “Forced marriage and ‘honour-based’ violence are not cultural traditions – they are an abuse of human rights. If you or someone you know is being forced into a marriage or experiencing ‘honour’-based abuse, Sandwell Council and our partners can help and advise you.”

Councillor Maria Crompton, Deputy Leader of Sandwell Council, said: “Council officers and our colleagues from Black Country Women’s Aid and the police understand the issues and the family pressures brought to bear on those experiencing forced marriage and ‘honour-based’ abuse.

“They know how difficult it is for people going through these situations to talk about their concerns and fears. Our officers and colleagues are there to offer confidential support and information, and to uphold the victims’ rights and freedoms. You are not alone. We are here to help you”. 

What should you do if you are worried about a forced marriage or ‘honour-based’ abuse?

Useful contact information:

Black Country Women’s Aid (BCWA) can provide support to victims of domestic abuse, including forced marriage and ‘honour’-based abuse.

Call the BCWA 24-hour helpline on 0121 552 6448, or text/WhatsApp on 07384 466 181 (9am-9pm Monday-Friday).

You can talk to a trained advisor on BCWA web chat. It is open Monday-Fridays 10am-2pm, except on bank holidays: www.blackcountrywomensaid.co.uk

Call the police on 999 in an emergency.

Contact Children's Services on 0121 569 3100, if a child is at risk.

Call Adult Services on 0121 569 2266 during office hours if a vulnerable adult is at risk. Or call 0121 569 2355 outside office hours.

For more information visit: www.sandwell.gov.uk/domesticabuse