Throughout this knowledge module, reference to certain provisions or sections of a piece of legislation, part of a legal judgment, or aspect of a practice does not imply that the legislation, judgment, or practice is considered in its entirety to be a good example or a promising practice.

Some of the laws cited herein may contain provisions which authorize the death penalty. In light of the United Nations General Assembly resolutions 62/14963/16865/206, and 67/176 calling for a moratorium on and ultimate abolition of capital punishment, the death penalty should not be included in sentencing provisions for crimes of violence against women and girls.

Other Provisions Related to Domestic Violence LawsResources for Developing Legislation on Domestic Violence
Sexual Harassment in Sport Tools for Drafting Sexual Harassment Laws and Policies
Immigration Provisions Resources for developing legislation on sex trafficking of women and girls
Child Protection Provisions Resources on Forced and Child Marriage
Other provisions related to dowry-related and domestic violence laws
Related Tools

Development of a national action plan on forced marriages

Last edited: January 27, 2011

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Drafters should develop a national plan of action to combat forced and child marriage. UN Women’s Handbook for National Action Plans on Violence Against Women (2012) recommends that national action plans should outline a comprehensive, coherent, and sustained programme of activity that builds evidence and practice over time, including the following elements:

  • Cross-cutting actions to establish governance structures, ensure participation of civil society, strengthen law and policy, build capacity of workforces and organizations, and improve evidence, throughout all aspects of the Plan (see chapter 3.3);
  • A coordinated strategy for the primary prevention of violence against women (see chapter 3.4);
  • The establishment and ongoing improvement of an integrated service, police and judicial response to violence against women (see chapter 3.5);
  • A description of how the Plan will be implemented, including articulation of concrete goals, actions, timelines and implementing entities; links to gender equality machinery and policy; and designated funding sources (see chapter 3.6); and
  • Evaluation, monitoring and reporting of the above (see chapter 3.7).

Additional guidance can be found in the Beijing Platform for Action, which calls upon states to promulgate national plans of action. The Beijing Platform for Action recommends involving broad participation in the plan by national bodies that work on the advancement of women, the private sector, and other relevant institutions, including “legislative bodies, academic and research institutions, professional associations, trade unions, cooperatives, local community groups, non-governmental organizations, including women’s organizations and feminist groups, the media, religious groups, youth organizations and cultural groups, as well as financial and non-profit organizations” (Para. 294-95). The platform also emphasizes the importance of involving actors at the highest political levels, ensuring appropriate staffing and protocols are in place within ministries, having stakeholders review their goals, programs, and procedures within the framework of the plan, and engaging the media and public education to promote awareness of the plan (Para. 296). The plan should also address the roles and responsibilities of actors charged with implementing the plan.See the Implementation Module for more information on developing national action plans.

Illustrative Examples:

  • Cape Verde’s National Action Plan to Combat Gender-Based Violence (2006) (Portugese) promotes actions directed at boys and men, with the objective of influencing social norms in relation to multiple partners, domestic violence, forced marriage, sexual violence, and early motherhood/fatherhood.
  • The UK’s Forced Marriage Unit provides funding for civil society programs to address to protect victims of forced marriage, raise awareness, and coordinate services at the local level.


UN Women, Handbook for National Action Plans on Violence Against Women  Handbook for National Action Plans on Violence Against Women (2012).


Promising Practices:

Norway has promulgated an Action Plan on against Forced Marriages (2008-2011). The plan sets forth a six-point strategy to combat forced marriages, including: legislation against forced marriage and its enforcement; prevention; expertise and cooperation; ensuring that help is effective and available; intensifying international efforts and cooperation, and; strengthening knowledge and research. The action plan also addresses the national machinery responsible for implementation, which includes primary and secondary school systems, the Directorate of Education, the municipal and school health services, mental health care, social services, child welfare, crisis centers, family counseling services, police, prosecutors, immigrant-focused organizations, agencies working against forced marriage, municipal refugee services, the integration and diversity body, asylum seeker reception centers, Directorate of Immigration, Immigration Appeals Board, the Foreign Service, religious communities, the state housing agency, centers on violence, traumatic stress and suicide prevention, and the minority health unit.

The UK Forced Marriage Unit promulgated a Forced Marriage Unit Action Plan Forced Marriage Unit Action Plan for 2009-2010, which was included under the broader Violence Against Women Action Plan 2010-2011. The plan strengthened safeguards to ensure that all victims of forced marriage receive effective and coordinated support from relevant national agencies and aims to eradicate forced marriage by working with communities, victims and governments to overcome the longstanding practices of acceptance or denial. It involved three campaigns that focus on prevention, protection and provision: 1) Practitioner Response; 2) Community Response; and 3) International Response.

The Swedish Government’s Action Plan on Combating men’s violence against women, violence and oppression in the name of honour and violence in same-sex relationships, specifies that the government must carry out an inquiry into the effectiveness of penal sanctions for child and forced marriages.