Remember that you may only have one chance to meet, talk and consult with the person, so make efficient use of the time, get as many details as possible, and provide as much information and support as you can.
CONFIDENTIALITY IS OF THE UTMOST IMPORTANCE.
REASSURE REPEATEDLY THAT THIS INFORMATION WILL NOT BE SHARED (OR WILL NOT BE SHARED OUTSIDE THE AGENCY).
Provide a Safe Environment
Advise the person of your professional and legal responsibility to maintain confidentiality.
Listen without judgement. Be prepared to have them confide in you about personal matters related to sexuality, forbidden relationships, etc.
Make sure that appointments are booked at times when the individual can attend in a safe and discrete way. For example: schedule a meeting during their lunch hour at school so they can attend without their parents’ knowledge.
Display relevant information about forced marriage and related topics so the person can see that she/he is not alone.
Duty to Report
Know your duty as a professional and service provider. According to the Ministry of Child and Youth Services you are required to report if you are suspicious about the welfare of any child under the age of 16 years old. This includes teens who are 16 and 17 years old who are already under protection. Their welfare can include being at risk of, or experiencing, abuse and/or neglect.
Contact the nearest Children’s Aid Society agency to report the situation, or for further guidance and information at (416) 987-7725 or www.oacas.org.
Get The Details
When possible, obtain as much information as possible.
(Detail Information Gathering Form coming soon)
Know the Legal Position
Forced marriage has now been criminalized in Canada.
In addition, provisions present in immigration, family, and criminal law are often applicable to offenses committed.
Criminal offences that may be applicable include:
- Sexual assault
- Threats to harm or kill
Inform the person of their legal rights and leave it to the client’s discretion whether or not to report to legal authorities.
Any marriage that takes place without the full and free consent of BOTH parties to the marriage is not a valid marriage under Canadian family law, regardless of where the marriage takes place.
- Do NOT send the individual away without assistance, in the belief that it is not your responsibility, or that you cannot help them
- Do NOT approach the family or friends, unless they ask you to do so
- Do NOT send the individual back to their family without their permission
- Do NOT breach confidentiality
- Do NOT attempt to be a mediator
- Do NOT contact community leaders or members unless requested to do so by the client
- Do NOT disclose immigration status to police or immigration authorities
- Do NOT provide legal advice unless you are qualified to do so
Respect Client Rights
It is important to understand that whatever the circumstances, the individual has rights and that their autonomy to make decisions should always be respected.
- Their personal wishes
- Their personal safety and level of risk
- Their confidentiality
- Receiving accurate information about their rights and choices
Keep Information Safe
Information from case and database files should be kept strictly confidential and preferably be restricted to named members of staff only.
When referring a forced marriage case to another organization, ensure that they are capable and have the resources to effectively, safely and appropriately handle the case.
Try to refer individuals, with their consent, to appropriate counselling services. For example: If the person belongs to the LGBTQ community, they need to be referred to counselling services familiar with their needs, in addition to specific services related to the issue of forced marriage.
Give them advice on what service they should expect and from whom.
Appropriate Case Worker
Give the person, when possible, the choice of the race and gender of the social worker who deals with their case.
Inform of Rights
Inform them of their right to seek legal advice and representation.
Provide them with personal safety advice.
Record any injuries and arrange for a medical examination. Keep detailed documentation of any injuries or history of abuse, as the police may require this for subsequent investigation or prosecution in related legal matters.
Keep a Record
Maintain a full record of decisions made and the reason for those decisions.
Give Them Your Contact
Ensure that the individual has your contact details.