How to Intervene in Forced Marriage Cases
The Role of Service Providers
Forced marriage has many similarities with other forms of domestic violence. As such, victims may only try to access help from a service provider as a last resort.
Cases of forced marriage may present in various ways. You will need to watch out for these warning signs, since many individuals may not directly disclose if they are in a forced marriage:
- Person may seem depressed or anxious
- Person appears frightened or jumpy
- Person may seem withdrawn
- Missing school, or a drop in school performance
- Missing appointments
- Suspicious injuries
- Person always has a chaperone when attending appointments (family members, spouse)
- Spouse or parent seems aggressive/dominant, and person seems passive/afraid
- Person may have developed an eating disorder
- Attempted suicide
You can assist the person by offering non-judgemental and empathetic support and counselling. You can also help them:
- Create a safety plan
- Learn about their rights and options
- Connect with appropriate services
Due to the complex nature of forced marriage, several agencies usually work together to address all of the issues associated with each case. However, keep in mind that you may only have one chance to meet, talk and consult with someone in, or at risk of, a forced marriage, so get as many details as possible, and provide as much information and support as you can.
SAFETY AND EXPOSURE TO RISK
Service providers must be aware that the individual seeking help may be at risk of facing violence and harm if their family learns that they have sought assistance.
Safety and confidentiality are of the utmost importance.