Q110: I am in an arranged marriage and I want to leave but I am afraid. My family is forcing me to go abroad and get married and I don't want to, can you help?
Firstly, it is very important to differentiate between an arranged marriage and a forced marriage. An arranged marriage is agreement between both parties, entered into freely and is a practice that has worked successfully in many cultures for many years. A forced marriage is where one or both of the parties have not agreed to marry and have been forced to do so against their own free will.
Under the Anti-Social Behaviour and Policing Act 2014, forcing someone into marriage is a criminal offence in Scotland, as is taking someone away from Scotland against their will to be married. Other associated criminal offences include abduction, threats and domestic abuse. Scottish law provides both civil and criminal protection (forced marriage protection orders).
Most police forces will have a person or department who is specialised and who will be able to help you in this matter.
They, in conjunction with other organisations, will try to find you secure accommodation, out of the district you currently live in and will also have many contacts who will be able to help you in the long term. They will be able to provide assistance with long term accommodation, advice on income possibilities and issues regarding personal safety.
The police are aware of the confidentiality issues related to this problem and will not divulge any information about your visit, conversations or in fact any of your dealings with the police or any other organisations, to anyone, without your express permission.
The Forced Marriage Unit at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office can give advice on all the related problems with forced marriages. Their contact number is below.
If you are afraid that you are going to be taken abroad to be married against your will, or you know someone who you think has or is going to be, then please contact your local force. You will need to provide the police with as much detail as possible. Name, date of birth and address of the person and as much detail as possible of the family of the person and any possible travel dates and destinations.
Forced Marriage Unit, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Advice and support for those in fear of being taken abroad for the purposes of forced marriage – across Great Britain) 0207 008 0230
Details of other organisations who will be able to offer help and support are:
Careline - 020 8514 1177
Childline - 0800 1111
National Missing Persons Helpline - 0500 700700
Refuge 24 hour National Crisis Line - 0990 995 443
Reunite 020 7375 3440 emergency line 0208 607 9660
Asian Family Counselling Service 020 8567 5616
Victim Support 0845 60 39213