My Marriage My Choice

 Forced marriage pic
16 Dec 2016 12:06:17.327

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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.

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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.

Better understanding

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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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham has 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with a “distinct” approach to internationalisation, which rests on those full-scale campuses in China and Malaysia, as well as a large presence in its home city.’ (Times Good University Guide 2016). It is also one of the most popular universities in the UK among graduate employers and was named University of the Year for Graduate Employment in the 2017 The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide. It is ranked in the world’s top 75 by the QS World University Rankings 2015/16, and 8th in the UK for research power according to the Research Excellence Framework 2014. It has been voted the world’s greenest campus for four years running, according to Greenmetrics Ranking of World Universities.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest-ever fundraising campaign, is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…


Story credits

More information is available from Dr Anne Patterson in the School of Sociology and Social Policy on +44 (0)115 95 15379 or at; or Rachael Clawson on +44 (0115 846 7010 or at

Charlotte Anscombe – Media Relations Manager (Arts and Social Sciences)

Email:  Phone:+44 (0)115 74 84 417 Location: University Park

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