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10th May 2024

Forced Marriage Unit statistics 2023

Read the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) 2023 data on forced marriage cases and forced marriage enquiries to its national helpline. This government unit is a joint Home Office and Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) unit.

The Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) has published its 2023 data on forced marriage cases and forced marriage enquiries to its national helpline. This government unit is a joint Home Office and Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) unit.

These statistics highlight that the number of FMU cases through the helpline has fallen. In its recent release, there were 280 cases of forced marriage and 519 enquiries, which is 16% lower than in 2022.

However, the FMU emphasises that this decrease is unlikely to indicate a decline in the prevalence of forced marriage in the UK. Their statistics only reflect reported cases to the unit, and they state that the FMU statistics are not a good guide to measuring the prevalence of forced marriage in the UK, partially owing to changes in recording practices, leaving the data in 2023 not directly comparable with that of previous years, prior to 2020.

Charities like Karma Nirvana and statutory agencies like the Police have witnessed increases in forced marriage reporting since the pandemic. 

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Read the FMUs 2023 data on Forced Marriage and forced marriage enquiries
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Key points from the publication:

In 2023, the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) received 802 contacts related to a possible forced marriage and/or possible female genital mutilation (FGM). This figure includes contact that was made to the FMU through its public helpline or by email in relation to a new case and comprises 280 cases of forced marriage where advice and support were provided, 3 cases of FGM and 519 forced marriage enquiries. Forced marriage enquiries received always have an element of forced marriage but often can also be related to multiple issues alongside forced marriage. These forced marriage enquiries only require signposting and general advice. In previous data releases we called these ‘general enquiries’ but the name has been changed to forced marriage enquiries to better represent the nature of this contact with the FMU.

All percentages and analysis throughout this document relate to the figure of 283.

A case in which advice and support is given (‘advice and support cases’) is one where the FMU is provided with full details of a specific individual at risk of, or affected by, forced marriage (or, where there is an overseas angle, FGM), and actively provides advice and support for as long as is required. 

A forced marriage enquiry is one where the FMU may be asked to provide general advice and/or signposting to other sources of guidance or information without requiring continuous actions or support by the FMU such as historic arranged or forced marriage but now requiring advice about divorce or annulment, how to apply for a forced marriage protection order, who should the referral be made to, immigration advice about foreign spouses and so on.

The FMU began to record these in 2018, separate to the advice and support cases which comprised the annual published statistics.

These statistics represent only the cases that have been reported to the FMU, and where the FMU has actively given advice or support. Forced marriage is a hidden crime, and these figures will not reflect the full scale of the abuse. Separately, the Home Office has commissioned the University of Birmingham and University of Nottingham to conduct a feasibility study on how accurate estimations of the prevalence of forced marriage and FGM in England and Wales might be made. The Home Office is considering the findings and any potential next steps.

Official Statistics, Forced Marriage Unit statistics 2023, Published 9 May 2024