Violence, threats or other forms of coercion is involved in a forced marriage, and it is a criminal offence.

There has been an increase in the number of forced marriage cases linked to India last year.

The Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) of the Home and Foreign Office data revealed that there were 110 cases related to India during 2018, compared to 82 in 2017.

In total, there were 1,764 cases in 2018, up 568 cases or 47 per cent in 2017, an annual report shows.

“The proportion of cases linked to India in 2018 was similar to previous years. There was a higher proportion of older victims as well as male victims compared to other focus countries. This is most likely due to the fact that many of these cases involved reluctant sponsors”, FMU said, reported Indian daily Hindustan Times.

“Almost 30 per cent of cases were linked to London. There were cases linked to 13 of the 32 London boroughs”, it added.

Forced marriage is when one or both parties involved do not consent to marriage. Violence, threats or other forms of coercion is involved in a forced marriage, and it is a criminal offence.

Increased awareness of forced marriage being a crime has resulted in many coming forward to report the issue.

The country with the highest number of cases of forced marriage was Pakistan with 769 of the total, followed by Bangladesh with 157 cases.

However, the report stressed that forced marriage was not a problem specific to a particular culture.

Since 2011, the FMU has handled cases relating to more than 110 countries across Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and North America.