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Pandemic leads to 44 per cent decrease in cases handled by Forced Marriage Unit in 2020

In 2020, the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) gave advice or support in 759 cases related to a possible forced marriage and/or possible female genital mutilation (FGM). This comprised 750 cases solely related to forced marriage, three cases related to both forced marriage and FGM, and six cases solely related to FGM. This figure includes contact that was made to the FMU through the public helpline or by email in relation to a new case. This does not include over 400 general enquires the unit received which did not relate to a specific case.

The figures were revealed in statistics forthcoming from the Home Office and Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

The 759 cases in 2020 represents a 44 per cent decrease on the average number of cases (1,359) received annually between 2011 and 2019. This is thought to be largely attributable to reasons derived from the coronavirus pandemic, such as restrictions on weddings and overseas travel, which have been in place to varying degrees from March 2020. Following the introduction of the first lockdown in the UK, referrals to the FMU decreased from an average of 82 per month (January-March 2020) to 44 per month (April-June 2020). A procedural change regarding whether to log a new case as a referral or a general enquiry is also likely to have had a minor impact on the overall number of cases compared with previous years.

The FMU remained fully operational throughout the restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic and took steps to ensure that this was publicised extensively.

Of the cases that the FMU provided advice or support to in 2020:

These proportions are broadly in line with case numbers from recent years.

For the full statistics, click here.