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Forced Marriage Unit statistics 2020

Date:15 JUL 2021
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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, 3 cases related to both forced marriage and FGM, and 6 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.
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The 759 cases in 2020 represents a 44% 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. FMU caseworkers have been more regularly invited to attend multi-agency strategy meetings following the switch to virtual working.

In 2020, the FMU increased its outreach activities and delivered training to over 450 professionals in how to support victims of forced marriage. This included the introduction of bespoke training workshops for social workers alongside the existing programme of workshops for police officers. This also included presentations to police officers, social services, health professionals, Border Force staff and community groups. In 2020, 12,162 people from a wide range of professions took the FMU’s Awareness of Forced Marriage free online course.

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

  • 199 cases (26%) involved victims below 18 years of age
  • 278 cases (37%) involved victims aged 18-25
  • 66 cases (9%) involved victims with mental capacity concerns
  • 603 cases (79%) involved female victims, and 156 cases (21%) involved male victims

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

Forced marriage is not a problem specific to one country, religion or culture. Since 2011, the FMU has handled cases relating to countries across six continents.

You can read more here.