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Predatory marriage

Predatory marriage is an emerging form of exploitation which can happen to anyone. The Torbay and Devon Safeguarding Adults Partnership wants to raise awareness so that everyone is vigilant and can help to stop predatory marriage from happening as we all have a role to play in safeguarding adults at risk.

Older adults and adults who lack mental capacity are particularly at risk. Common features of this type of abuse are coercion and control and financial abuse.

The grooming process is often hidden in plain sight and this type of abuse can target anyone, although currently is more commonly affecting older women.

Did you know?:

  • A person’s existing Will is revoked when a marriage takes place, benefiting the new spouse, and this is near on impossible to challenge.
  • Should there be a power of attorney acting on behalf of a person who is at risk, that attorney is not automatically notified when the person enters into a marriage.

If a person does not consent or lacks mental capacity to consent to marriage, that marriage must be viewed as a forced marriage whatever the reason for the marriage taking place. However, mental capacity is time and decision specific and this makes it very challenging to seek convictions once a marriage has taken place. Only four people have ever been convicted under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2014 in its first five years of existence despite over a thousand reported cases in 2017 alone.

TDSAP have developed a podcast regarding Joan’s story.

If you are concerned that a adult at risk is a victim of forced marriage or predatory marriage, you can raise a concern.

You can also contact the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) if you are trying to stop a forced marriage or should you need help yourself to leave a marriage you have been forced into – remember that the Multi-agency statutory guidance for dealing with forced marriage highlights that a person who does not have mental capacity, cannot consent to marriage.

The Forced Marriage Unit has also developed free forced marriage e-learning for professionals which aims to enable professionals to recognise the warning signs and ensure that appropriate action is taken to help protect and support all those at risk.

The Predatory Marriage UK website was established as a consequence to the injustice to Joan. It aims to bring reforms in marriage laws and other procedures to better protect adults at risk of being exploited and abused in this way.