Honour based violence & forced marriage


Honour-based violence (HBV) is a crime or incident, which has been committed to protect or defend the perceived honour of the family and/or community. Such violence can occur when perpetrators perceive that a relative/community member, who may be a child, has shamed the family and/or the community by breaking their honour code. The punishment for transgressing the code of behaviour may include assault, abduction, confinement, threats and murder. Incidents that may seem like a trivial transgression to others may be sufficient motivation for a child to be punished, including:

  • inappropriate make-up or dress;
  • the existence of a boyfriend/girlfriend;
  • inter-faith relationships;
  • kissing or intimacy in a public place;
  • pregnancy outside of marriage; and
  • rejecting a forced marriage.


A forced marriage is where one or both spouses do not (or, in the case of children / young people / adults at risk, cannot) consent to the marriage and duress is involved. Duress can include physical, psychological, financial, sexual and emotional pressure, threatening conduct, harassment, threat of blackmail, use of deception and other means. It is also ‘force’ to knowingly take advantage of a person’s incapacity to consent to, or understand the nature of, the marriage. Duress may be from parents, other family members and the wider Community


In Scotland, a couple cannot be legally married unless both parties are at least 16 on the day of the marriage, and both must be capable of understanding the nature of a marriage ceremony and of consenting to the marriage. Parental consent is not required.


Legislation came into force in November 2011 which makes provision for the protection of people being forced into marriage or who have already been forced into a marriage. (Forced Marriage etc. (Protection and Jurisdiction) (Scotland) Act 2011). In 2014 it became a criminal offence to force someone to marry.


The consequences of forced marriage can be devastating to those affected, they often become estranged from their families and wider communities; losing out on educational opportunities as they are taken prematurely from school; suffering domestic abuse; and/or having a high rate of self-harm and suicide rates.


Potential indicators of HBV and forced marriage can include combinations of a number of signs and the list below is not exhaustive:

  • absence and persistent absence from education;
  • request for extended leave of absence and failure to return from visits to country of origin;
  • decline in behaviour, engagement, performance or punctuality;
  • being withdrawn from school by those with parental responsibility;
  • being prevented from attending extra-curricular activities; and/or from going onto further/higher education;
  • self-harm, attempted suicide, depression, eating disorders;
  • accompanied to doctors or clinics and prevented from speaking to health practitioner in confidence;
  • female genital mutilation;
  • reports of domestic abuse, harassment or breaches of the peace at the family home;


f agencies become aware of victims going abroad they should contact the Forced Marriage Unit.  The FMU is a joint FCO and Home Office unit. It offers advice to anyone in the UK, regardless of nationality, and specific assistance to British nationals facing forced marriage abroad. It works with government departments, statutory agencies and voluntary organisations on policy and runs an outreach programme. The FMU can assist a British national’s return to the UK by providing emergency travel documents, helping to arrange flights and, if possible, arranging temporary accommodation whilst the woman is overseas. The FCO may ask the police to meet a victim on arrival in the UK in case family members try to abduct her at the airport.


Contact details

Tel: 020 7008 0151 (Mon-Fri: 9am–5pm)

Email: fmu@fco.gov.uk

Web: www.fco.gov.uk/forcedmarriage


 Staff may only have one chance to speak to a potential victim and thus, have one chance to save a life. It is important that all professionals working within statutory agencies are aware of their responsibilities and obligations when they come across forced marriage cases. If the victim is allowed to walk out of the door without support, that one chance might be lost.


Forced Marriage is a cross cutting issue impacting on areas of community safety, gender-based violence, child protection, adult protection and MARAC. The Equality Act 2010 requires statutory agencies to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination which is unlawful under the Act, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations.


Particular care must be taken around confidentiality; it can be dangerous to involve families, friends or community leaders in any capacity. It is not appropriate to attempt family counselling, mediation, arbitration or reconciliation.


Staff should make themselves familiar with Fifes Practitioners Guide: Supporting those at risk of forced marriageThe Champion for Forced Marriage is the Head of Education & Children's Services (Enhancing Opportunities for the Vulnerable) / Chief Social Work Officer.


Lead officers contacts in key services/agencies are detailed in the Practitioners Guide and can be contacted for further advice.


The Forced Marriage etc. (Protection and Jurisdiction) (Scotland) Act 2011 legislated for Forced Marriage Protection Orders (FMPO) which can be granted in the civil courts in Scotland.  FMPO’s can protect both adults and children at risk. The provision is designed to enable the courts to tailor the terms of an FMPO to protect and meet the specific needs of victims of forced marriage or potential forced marriage  Any person, with leave of the court, can apply for an FMPO. However, the victim, a local authority, the Lord Advocate and any other person specified by order may apply without leave. Breach of a forced marriage protection order is a criminal offence and is punishable by imprisonment for up to 2 years and/or a fine.


If a Forced Marriage Protection Order is breached the police must be informed as soon as possible through the police contact centre 101. Guidance may be sought from the public protection unit in the first instance.


The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 made forcing someone into a marriage a criminal offence in Scotland.


There may be a need for immediate protection and emergency action, including for other siblings.  Effective inter-agency working and information sharing is critical. The alleged perpetrator, extended family and wider community may all present risk to the victim. As a consequence of this risk practitioners must consider carefully how any initial contact is made with the alleged victim.


Further helpful information can be found in the following publications or on the links noted below:


 A Choice by Right, Report of the UK Working Group on Forced Marriage, 1999.

Forced marriage: A wrong not a right.

Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007.

Forced marriage: A civil remedy.

Safer Lives: Changed Lives: A shared approach to tackling violence againstwomen in Scotland, Scottish Government, 2009.

Handling cases of forced marriage: follow link on victims of forced marriages.

The Forced Marriage etc (Protection & Jurisdiction)(Scotland) Act 2011


www.karmanirvana.org.uk national honour support line for practitioners and service users 0800 5999 247

 One Scotland Equality Website



This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. For more information read our privacy policy.