Forced Marriage and mental health

Author(s): Manjeet Kaur Singh;  

Briefing series: Better Health Briefing Paper 24

Publisher: Race Equality Foundation

Publication date: July 2011


    Forced Marriage and mental health
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Forced Marriage has emerged as an issue for concern for health practitioners and policy makers over the last 10 years. This paper considers both the extent of Forced Marriage in the UK, and the impact that Forced Marriage, and other associated problems, such as domestic abuse, can have upon the mental health of its victims.  The paper highlights a number of  organisations implementing good practice in supporting the victims of Forced Marriage, and emphasises the importance of partnership working between statutory services and the third sector.

Key messages

  • The extent of the issue of Forced Marriage in the UK began to unfold following the publication and implementation of the recommendations of the report, A Choice by Right (Home Office Working Group, 2000).
  • The Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007 is one of a number of Government strategies designed to limit Forced Marriage and safeguard victims.
  • The impact of Forced Marriage on the mental health of adults and young people cannot be underestimated, yet this area has received insufficient attention in government policy. The situation has not been aided by the limited number of studies which consider the mental health of victims.
  • General practitioners, primary care nurses, accident and emergency nurses and social workers are often well placed to detect warning signs of Forced Marriage. It is essential they work together as multi-agencies and partners in providing best possible care.
  • Specific strategies, such as routine enquiry, may assist victims of Forced Marriage.
  • The third sector is often well placed and culturally sensitive to the needs of victims of Forced Marriage. Partnerships that work with specialist third-sector agencies can enhance the response of statutory agencies.


  • A Forced Marriage is not a ‘choice by right’
  • Safeguarding victims of Forced Marriage
  • Safeguarding the mental health of victims of Forced Marriage
  • Getting it right: responsibilities for health and social care practitioners
  • Specific strategies to assist victims of Forced Marriage
  • Adding value partnerships with specialist third sector agencies to enhance statutory agency responses