The Forced Marriage Unit, a joint initiative between the Foreign Office and Home Office, has announced a big jump in the number of cases of men being forced into marriage over the last two years. It received over 220 emails and calls to its helpline in 2009 about suspected forced marriages involving male victims -- up from 134 in 2008, an increase of 65%.
While the majority of victims are women, 14% of the cases handled by the Forced Marriage Unit last year involved men. A number of these cases involved male victims being forced to marry women because their families know or suspect they are gay or bisexual.
What qualifies as forced marriage?
In a forced marriage, a person is coerced into marrying someone against their will. They may be physically threatened or emotionally blackmailed to do so. It is an abuse of human rights and cannot be justified on any religious or cultural basis.
Where can I go for help?
If you are worried you might be forced into a marriage or are worried about someone else, call the Forced Marriage Unit at +44 (0)20 7008 0151, between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday. Alternatively, an Emergency Duty Officer is available outside of office hours at +44 (0)20 7008 1500. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What legal action can I take?
Male and female victims of forced marriage, or others acting on their behalf, can apply for a Forced Marriage Protection Order. An order can be used to prevent someone being forced into marriage or to protect a person where a marriage has already taken place. People can be arrested if they do not comply with the orders. Since coming into force in November 2008, over 150 orders have been taken out.