Faith, Belief & Harmful Practices


Information, guidance and resources can be found the CHSCP FGM webpage.

Forced Marriage

forced marriage is a marriage in which one or both spouses do not consent to the marriage but are coerced into it.  Duress can include physical, psychological, financial, sexual and emotional pressure. In cases of vulnerable adults who lack the capacity to consent to marriage, coercion is not required for a marriage to be forced.Forced marriage is a criminal offence and can seriously affect the health and development of those affected.  All agencies must cooperate and work together to protect children and young people at risk of or who have been forced to marry.

In 2014, the Government developed two sets of multi-agency guidance to tackle forced marriage. The first is entitled: Multi-Agency Practice Guidelines: Handling cases of Forced Marriage, provides advice and support to frontline professionals who have responsibilities to safeguard those affected by this issue.

The second is statutory guidance issued under section 63Q(1) of the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007 (2007 c.20) and is aimed at Chief Executives, Directors and Senior Managers. The Right to Choose: Multi-agency guidance for dealing with forced marriage.

The Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) was set up by the Government in 2005 and operates both inside the UK and overseas; where consular assistance is provided to British and dual nationals. In addition to its support and outreach service, the FMU offers training and operates a helpline to provide advice and support to victims and professionals dealing with cases. To contact the FMU click here.

An e-learning tools is available on this website and can be found here.

So Called "Honour-Based Violence"

So called “honour crime”, “honour-based violence” or “izzat” (mainly a South Asian term) embrace a variety of crimes of violence mainly perpetrated towards girls and women, including assault, imprisonment and murder where the person is being punished by their family or their community. The family or community are punishing them for undermining what they believe to be the correct code of behaviour. 

Failure to adhere to the correct code of behaviour is an indicator to the family that the person cannot be controlled to conform and this brings “shame” to the family.

“Honour-based violence” usually occurs with some degree of approval by family and/ community members and it has an international dimension as victims can be taken overseas where the violence is then perpetrated. It can also be a trigger for a forced marriage.

Child Abuse linked to Faith & Belief

Child abuse linked to faith or belief can be open to several different interpretations. This section focuses on children and young people accused of being a witch or of witchcraft and being abused because it is believe that they are “possesed” by evil spirits (spirit possession). Abuse linked to faith or belief is detrimental to the health and wellbeing of children and young people and can have serious consequences.

The London Safeguarding Children Board has developed London Culture and Faith Practice Guidance providing advice on how to promote and protect the welfare of children living in circumstances which appear to be complex because of their faith and culture.