UK: Guidelines for the Prevention of Forced Marriage Published
Monday, July 27, 2009 10:47 AM

The United Kingdom’s Forced Marriage Unit recently published a revised report entitled Multi-Agency Practice Guidelines: Handling Cases of Forced Marriage.  The report calls on school officials to be alert for signs of students being forced into marriage, saying the summer holiday from school is often used by abusive families to send children abroad for marriage.  The report lists warning signs and appropriate actions for teachers and other school employees to take when they suspect a forced marriage is imminent.  The report also provides a list of actions to be avoided, such as approaching the family of the suspected victim. 

Teachers are in a unique position to help young people who may become victims of forced marriage, in part, because they spend time with potential victims in an environment where abusive families are not present to ensure the potential victim's silence. The report explains how teachers may effectively use this access to identify and end abuse. "There are key times of the year, particularly if an elder sibling has married very young or suddenly left school, if a youngster is self-harming or if they are constantly being accompanied by parents, even to a doctor's surgery," says Chris Bryant, a Foreign Service Officer. 

The report contains similar guidelines for police officers, health care professionals, and social workers, and provides general information on good practices when caring for victims of forced marriage.  According to BBC News, the Forced Marriage Unit received 770 calls for help regarding forced marriage so far this year. 

Compiled from: Dominic Casciani, “UK – Forced Marriage Plea Alert to Schools,” BBC News (2 July 2009); Eleanor Stobart, “Multi-Agency Practice Guidelines: Handling Cases of Forced Marriage,” Forced Marriage Unit (2009).