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Forced Marriage Unit sees cases rise by 47 per cent

Increase does not necessarily represent a rise in the prevalence of forced marriage

In 2018, the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) gave advice or support related to a possible forced marriage in 1,764 cases. These figures include contact that has been made to the FMU in relation to a new case through the public helpline or by email and include general enquires.

Since 2012, the FMU has provided support to between approximately 1,200 and approximately 1,400 cases per year. The number of cases in 2018 represents a 47 per cent increase compared with 2017 and is the highest number since these statistics were first in the current format in 2011. This does not necessarily represent an increase in the prevalence of forced marriage in the UK.

There are other potential reasons for the increase in cases:

- Two court cases which received significant amounts of media attention and resulted in prosecutions
- Wider media attention possibly raising awareness of forced marriage
- Launch of the Home Office communication campaign about forced marriage.

Of the cases that FMU provided support to:

In 2018, the majority of cases – 1,322 (75 per cent) – involved women, with 297 cases (17 per cent) involving men (gender in the remaining cases was unknown). These proportions are in line with previous years.

The FMU says that forced marriage is not a problem specific to one country or culture. Since 2011, the FMU has handled cases relating to over 110 countries across Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and North America.
In 2018, the FMU handled cases relating to 74 'focus' countries. The six countries with the highest number of cases in 2018 were:

The proportion of cases relating to Pakistan has increased by around 7 per cent compared with the previous year. However, the proportion of cases relating to Pakistan in 2018 is stable compared to 2011-2016. After a large increase in 2017, the number of cases linked to Somalia has decreased. There has been a noticeable increase in cases linked to Romania. In 2018, the FMU provided support to 43 such cases compared with 29 across the whole period 2011-2017.

In 2018, 119 cases (7 per cent) had no overseas element, with the potential or actual forced marriage taking place entirely within the UK. This is a decrease compared with previous years, but continues to highlight that forced marriages can take place in the UK.

For the full statistics, click here.