Princess vs Sheikh: What is a forced marriage protection order?

by Emma Batha | @emmabatha | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Thursday, 1 August 2019 17:36 GMT

Jordanian Princess Haya bint Al-Hussein and her husband, Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum (R), walk to the parade ring on Ladies Day, the third day of horse racing at Royal Ascot in southern England June 17, 2010. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor/File Photo

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Princess Haya bint al-Hussein, daughter of Jordan's late King Hussein and half-sister to present King Abdullah, has applied for a forced marriage protection order

By Emma Batha

LONDON, Aug 1 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The estranged wife of Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum has asked London's High Court to protect one of their children from a forced marriage.

Princess Haya bint al-Hussein, 45, daughter of Jordan's late King Hussein and half-sister to present King Abdullah, has applied for a forced marriage protection order. The full hearing will be in November.

Below are some facts about forced marriage protection orders:

- A forced marriage protection order (FMPO) is an injunction designed to protect a person who has been forced into marriage or is at risk of forced marriage.

- A forced marriage can involve violence, threats and other emotional or psychological pressure such as telling someone they will shame the family if they do not marry a certain person.

- It is not the same as an arranged marriage where families are involved in choosing a spouse but where both sides are free to decide whether or not to enter a marriage.

- FMPOs are tailored to each case. Courts can order passports and travel documents to be handed over, require someone to stop intimidation or to reveal the whereabouts of a person at risk or already married. They can also require a person at risk to be monitored by social services or police.

- Almost 2,000 protection orders have been made since their introduction in 2008 and the number is on the rise.

- Courts made 126 orders in the first quarter of 2019, more than double the number for the same period in 2018. Orders can be made against different people in the same case.

- Four-fifths of applicants in the first quarter of this year were under 18 years old.

- Britain's justice ministry says the increase in orders does not necessarily indicate a rise in the prevalence of forced marriage, but may reflect a greater awareness of forced marriage being a crime and the support available.

- Forcing someone to marry, including taking someone overseas to marry, became a criminal offence in 2014. The maximum sentence is seven years. Four people have been convicted.

- Thirteen people have been convicted of breaching a forced marriage protection order since 2014. The maximum sentence is five years.

- Forced marriage has also been banned in other countries including Australia, Sweden and Germany, but campaigners say Britain is at the forefront of prevention efforts.

- It is often assumed that forced marriage takes place within poor, uneducated families, but campaigners said the princess's application shows it cuts across all social classes and praised her for trying to protect her children.

- Britain introduced similar protection orders to safeguard girls at risk of female genital mutilation in 2015. More than 400 orders have been issued in respect of 350 applications.

Sources: Ministry of Justice, Karma Nirvana (Reporting by Emma Batha @emmabatha; Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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