Forced marriage is when one or both people do not or cannot consent to the marriage. It can include forcing someone to marry through coercion, pressure or abuse from family members or others.
People can be physically, emotionally, psychologically and financially pressured to marry a person that they do not consent to marry. Physical pressure can include threats, actual physical violence and sexual violence. Emotional and psychological pressure can make someone feel like they will bring shame on the family. Financial pressure can be when someone’s wages are removed or their access to money is restricted.
A forced marriage is not the same as an arranged marriage. In an arranged marriage, whilst family members can match the couple to be married, either party has a choice as to whether or not to agree consent for the marriage.
Forced marriage is not an issue that is specific to any religion, ethnic group or culture.
Forced marriage is sometimes interpreted as a religious practice but it cannot be justified on religious grounds: every major faith condemns it and freely given consent is a prerequisite of Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh marriages.
The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 made it a criminal offence to force someone to marry. This includes:
The civil remedy of obtaining a Forced Marriage Protection Order through the family courts will continue to exist alongside the new criminal offence, so victims can choose how they wish to be assisted.
Anyone affected by these forms of violence and abuse should be able to access help and support when they need it and every case should be taken seriously. The Live Fear Free Helpline is a 24 hour helpline for women, children and men experiencing domestic abuse, sexual violence or other forms of violence against women on 0808 80 10 800.