Forced marriage of adults with learning disabilities – developing knowledge, policy and practice to keep people safe

Completed   2018


Forced marriage is defined as a marriage without the consent of one or both parties and where duress is a factor (UK Government Forced Marriage Unit). In a forced marriage one or both spouses do not, or cannot, due to lacking capacity, consent to the marriage.

Research and practice evidence demonstrates that people with learning disabilities are being forced to marry and that the consequences include physical and sexual assault, emotional harm and abandonment. The same research tells us that Safeguarding Adults Boards are struggling to know how to respond to the issue.

This study seeks to establish who is at risk and why. Permission has been given to undertake the first ever analysis of data held by the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) on cases involving people with learning disabilities. Further data will be gathered from people with learning disabilities; family members; community/faith leaders and practitioners to gain multiple perspectives on this complex issue.

Findings will be used to produce a range of outputs which will contribute to the reduction of forced marriage of people with learning disabilities by raising awareness amongst key stakeholders and improved safeguarding practices.