A new study from The University of Nottingham will examine the issue of forced marriage among adults with learning disabilities.
‘My Marriage My Choice’ is a two-year study which aims to improve understanding of the issue, as well as helping to develop policy and practice to support professionals in their work of safeguarding vulnerable children and adults.
The research is being led by Rachael Clawson at the University’s School of Sociology and Social Policy, in collaboration with a team from the University of Kent, at the charity RESPOND and the Ann Craft Trust.
Forced marriage is defined as a marriage without consent of one or both parties and where duress is a factor. In a forced marriage one or both spouses do not, or cannot, due to lacking capacity, consent to the marriage.
Previous research has shown that people with learning disabilities are being forced to marry and that the consequences include physical and sexual assault, emotional harm and abandonment. Further research has shown that Safeguarding Adult Boards are struggling to know how to respond to the issue.
During the study, researchers will analyse data held by the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU), on cases involving people with learning difficulties. Other data will be gathered from people with learning disabilities, family members, community/faith leaders and practitioners to gain multiple perspectives on this complex issue.
The aim of the project is to find who is at risk and why.
Rachael Clawson, the lead researcher on the study, said: “The issue of forced marriage is typically talked about within debates on violence against women, immigration control and cultural difference. It is rarely considered in relation to adults with learning disabilities.
“Forced marriage among this group of people is a huge issue. The aim of this project is to raise awareness and develop a better understanding of the issue and to help develop support and policies to help tackle this growing problem.”
Key objectives of the study will include; identifying the individual and cultural characteristics of people with a learning disability who are at risk of, or have been subjected to forced marriage; to develop resources for use by lay and professional carers; and to develop more effective safeguarding interventions.
The study is being funded by the National Institute for Health Research – School of Social Care Research (NIHR – SSCR).
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