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

Public awareness

Last edited: January 28, 2011

This content is available in

  • Legislation should direct appropriate bodies to develop multi-agency strategies that provide for public information campaigns aimed at educating women and girls about their rights, the law and the prevention of forced marriage. (See: Forced Marriage in Council of Europe Member States, Council of Europe) Public education campaigns should focus on educating parents and other community members about the negative physical, emotional, psychological, intellectual and sexual implications of forced and child marriage on women and girls. Public information should particularly target rural, marginalized and immigrant women, who may be at greater risk for forced and child marriage.

Illustrative Examples:

Nepal: In collaboration with the Global Partnership to End Child Marriage, the NGO SOLID conducted training workshops for the media about effective reporting on child marriage. Although child marriage is illegal in Nepal, it is a deeply embedded tradition and continues today, with more than 50% of girls married before they reach age 18. The workshop helped media professionals understand their role in addressing child marriage as well as reporting on the negative consequences for girls. The workshop provided an opportunity for relationship-building between the media and NGOs working on forced marriage.

United States: The State Department developed a resource guide providing steps to end child, early and forced marriage.  Available in English.

United Kingdom: The UK Forced Marriage Unit has leaflets, info cards, a handbook for survivors and posters available for download in English, Arabic, Bengali, French, Gujarati, Hindi, Kurdish, Punjabi, Somali, Kiswahili, and Urdu.

  • Outreach should target and engage religious and community leaders to increase their awareness. Public education programs should encourage them to emphasize to their communities that marriage requires the free and full consent of both parties. It is essential that religious and traditional leaders understand domestic laws related to forced marriage and how the practice of forced marriage violates women and girls’ human rights.

(See: Implementation of Laws on Violence against Women and Girls)

Illustrative Examples:

The Community Action for Girls’ Education project in Benin targeted communities to change attitudes about child marriage. The project conducted community sensitization programs to raise awareness among parents, teachers, and local authorities about the importance of girls’ education and the harmful consequences of child marriage.

Communities then established local monitoring committees to ensure that girls remained in school and did not marry. A project evaluation found that school enrollment rates for girls increased by 67 percent from 2000 to 2004, while dropout rates decreased from 36 percent to about 11 percent.

From: Population Reference Bureau, Who Speaks for Me? Ending Child Marriage, 2011, p. 4.

Women for Change in Zambia uses grassroots, human rights education to conduct community dialogues on traditional norms and practices in rural communities. The group established a Traditional Leaders Programme that works with chiefs and village heads to re-examine and abolish customs that discriminate against women including early marriage. Using local trainings, community dialogues, regional SADC trainings for traditional elders, and international exchanges between traditional leaders in Zambia and Tanzania the program has seen important impacts, such as the annulments of forced and child marriages by chiefs, as well as the appointment of women village headpersons.

See: DFID, How To Note: A Practical Guide on Community Programming on Violence against Women and Girls, 2012.


Promising Practice: The UK has established a forced marriage unit forced marriage unit  to respond to and assist victims of forced marriage. An estimated 8000 women are forced into marriages each year in the UK. The unit has developed a number of outreach and educational materials, including informational brochures, posters, and a survivor’s handbook. In addition, it has developed statutory guidance and practice guidelines for different agencies and responders on handling forced marriage case: The Right to Choose: Multi-agency statutory guidance for dealing with forced marriage, Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007: Guidance for local authorities as relevant third party and information relevant to multi-agency partnership working Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007: Guidance for local authorities as relevant third party and information relevant to multi-agency partnership working, and Multi-agency practice guidelines: Handling Cases of Forced Marriage. The UK Forced Marriage Unit has produced the Forced Marriage Case Handling Guide for MPs and Constituency Offices. This resource advises parliamentary members on how to better respond to forced marriage cases and where to direct victims. The Ministry of Justice has also provided separate guidance for local authority Relevant Third Parties and is working with local courts to develop a national court resource manual and with the Judicial Studies Board to revised guidance on forced marriage for the judiciary.


See also the Campaigns Module for more information.