Number of men affected by forced marriage reaches seven year high

According to the latest research from the Forced Marriage Unit, the number of men being forced into marriage has reached a seven-year high.

The new figures from the specialist unit reveal they dealt with 1,764 cases overall of forced marriage in 2018, an increase of 47 per cent on the previous year.  There was also found to be a rise in the number of male victims to a total of 297, the highest reported number in the last seven years.

Typically forced marriages are associated with vulnerable young women who have suffered at the hands of male relatives.  However, these statistics show the problem is also affecting a large number of young males too.

The majority of cases involve a UK citizen being taken to a foreign country or marrying a foreign national, however, 7 per cent of the latest cases were entirely domestic-based.

The research also found that in addition to a large number of forced marriage cases in the UK involving people from a South Asian background, there was a significant increase in the number of people from a Romanian background reporting the crime.

Pakistan had the highest number of cases with 769 (44 per cent of the total), followed by Bangladesh with 157 cases.

Forced marriages have only been criminalised since 2014, and while men are now beginning to find their voices, campaigners insist the real proportion of male cases are much higher.

In a statement, the minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, Victoria Atkins, said forced marriages were an abhorrent crime, and could mark the start of years of abuse.

She said: “In 2018, the Forced Marriage Unit provided support to more victims than ever before. We will continue to raise awareness of forced marriage so that all those affected by it know where they can go for support.”