Forced marriage - How to respond to a disclosure & what is the One Chance Rule?

Forced marriage - How to respond to a disclosure & what is the One Chance Rule?

Posted on Mar 04, 2016

Responding to a disclosure of forced marriage & information on the One Chance Rule.



Britain is slowly coming to terms with the fact it has a forced marriage problem.  

But the cases we know about are just the tip of the iceberg

says Jasvinder Sanghera, founder of Karma Nirvana – a leading charity supporting victims of forced marriage. 

It’s therefore going to become increasingly important that we know how to respond to a disclosure or discovery of a forced marriage, or the intention of one. 


Responding to a disclosure of forced marriage

First of all, the issue should be dealt with as part of your existing child safeguarding policies and procedures. 

You have a legal obligation to report any such concerns about under 18s to the safeguarding lead in your organisation.

They will share the information with the local police and social care services, and it is then their duty to investigate and protect the individual – not yours. 

What to do and what not to do  More specifically, here are a few pointers for responding to a disclosure of forced marriage: 




  • Take them seriously 
  • Recognise and respect their wishes 
  • Reassure them about confidentiality (that you are not going to inform their family) 
  • Collect as much information as possible 
  • Seek further information and support from the Forced Marriage Unit 
  • Keep detailed records of what has been said and done 




  • Dismiss what you’ve been told 
  • Approach members of the family or community to discuss the issue 
  • Breach confidentiality 
  • Try to be a mediator. 


The One Chance Rule  

The idea behind the One Chance Rule is that you might only have one chance to speak to a potential victim and, therefore, have one chance to save a life.  

Chaz Akoshile, joint head of the Forced Marriage Unit, says

“The one thing we always say is to always implement the one chance rule in every case. It is important each case of forced marriage is taken seriously as you may get only one opportunity to make a difference to the potential victim’s life. After which time you may then never hear from them again.”* 

If the situation seems urgent, the One Chance rule should always be applied.  

This effectively means getting as much information as possible about the person’s circumstances and referring them to the Forced Marriage Unit for immediate help. 


Train your staff 

For this strategy to work, it means people who are working with those at risk of forced marriage (realistically, anyone working with children or young people across the UK) need to be aware of what to do when they if they suspect a case of forced marriage.  

If there is not an appropriate response and the victim is not offered appropriate support following disclosure then the one chance opportunity may be lost.  

You can train your staff to be aware of the signs of forced marriage and how to respond to any disclosures with flick learning. 

Subscribing with flick offers access to all flick courses, plus downloadable guides and resources in the flick library. So why not sign up today?


Try flick for free


*Student British Medical Journal 




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