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12% rise in Childline counselling sessions about forced marriage

Recent figures from Childline show growing concern over forced marriage among young people.

In 2016/17, Childline has seen 205 counselling sessions on forced marriage. This a 12% increase from the previous year. There have also been 6,099 visits to its forced marriage webpage.

Girls as young as 13 have told Childline counsellors they were frightened about being taken abroad and forced to marry strangers by their families. Many said they experienced emotional abuse from their parents and were afraid of being cut out of their communities if they refused.

In March 2017 the Government published information on the number of cases reported to the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) via its public helpline and email inbox during 2016. Last year the FMU gave advice or support related to a possible forced marriage in 1,428 cases. Of the cases that FMU provided support to:

In 2016, the majority of cases 1,145 (80%) involved women victims, while 283 cases (20%) involved male victims.

The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 makes it a criminal offence to force someone to marry. This includes:

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.

For the 2016 FMU figures, click here. For Childline's forced marriage webpage, click here.