A forced marriage is a marriage that takes place without the full and free consent of both parties. Force encompasses physical, psychological, emotional, sexual and financial pressure, including force directed against another person in an attempt to force the victim into marriage.
Forced marriage was criminalised in the UK in 2014 under the Antisocial Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014. However, many victims of forced marriage do not want to pursue criminal sanctions against their perpetrator(s) because often it is their parents/family members. In such a situation civil protection is available to victims by obtaining a Forced Marriage Protection Order (FMPO).
A FMPO can protect the victim who has been, or is being forced into marriage against their will by imposing restrictions against the effecting of marriage and requirements such as the surrender of passports and not to harass, pester or molest the victim, directly or indirectly.
An application for a FMPO can be made by the person who is to be protected by the order; a relevant third party; or any other person with permission of the court such as friends or family members. In appropriate circumstances a FMPO may be made without notice being given to the respondent(s). A FMPO may be made for a specified period or indefinitely until varied or discharged. A breach of a FMPO is a criminal offence with a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment. Alternatively, a civil route can be pursued by making an application to the family court for contempt of court, which can involve two years’ imprisonment.
Biscoes is committed to protect and safeguard victims of forced marriage and we are there to advise, assist and represent in an application for a FMPO (or defending the same); whether or not legal aid is available.