Disabled women forced into marriage

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2018 National Women's Conference
28 September 2017

Conference notes that 86% of cases referred to the government’s forced marriage unit involve women, and that the abusive consequences for women with learning disabilities are likely to be severe.

Whilst it is possible that the family believe that their action in arranging a marriage without consent will protect their child, build strong family ties and preserve traditions, they are giving their disabled relative no choice in her future.

She may have no capacity to consent to marriage, sex or having children, and may, in common with non-disabled women in forced marriage be subject to many forms of abuse. These can include repeated rape, domestic violence from their husband or extended family, and forced labour in undertaking all household chores.

Disabled women who are isolated in a forced marriage may have additional barriers, including additional communication needs, and may not to be able to identify and seek support to escape.

Conference calls upon the national women’s committee to work with the national disabled members’ committee and appropriate partner organisations to:

• raise awareness of the issue of forced marriage involving learning-disabled women;

• lobby for greater support for women who may be vulnerable to forced marriage who lack the capacity to consent;

• lobby for greater enforcement of the forced marriage section of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.