A forced marriage is where one or both people do not (or in cases of people with learning disabilities, cannot) consent to the marriage and pressure or abuse is used. It is an appalling and indefensible practice and is illegal in Great Britain. It is recognised as a form of violence against women and men, domestic/child abuse and a serious abuse of human rights. A marriage must be entered into with the free and full consent of both parties; you should feel you have a choice.
An arranged marriage is not the same as a forced marriage. In an arranged marriage, the families take a leading role in choosing the partner, but both parties are free to choose whether to enter into the marriage or not. The pressure put on people to marry against their will can be physical (including threats, actual physical violence and sexual violence) or emotional and psychological (for example, when someone is made to feel like they’re bringing shame on their family). Financial abuse (taking your wages or not giving you any money) can also be a factor. In some cases people may be taken abroad without knowing that they are to be married. When they arrive in that country, their passport(s)/travel documents may be taken to try to stop them from returning to the UK.
If you or someone you know is being forced into a marriage, help and advice is available.
Call 999 if it is an emergency.
You can call:
(+44) (0) 207 008 0151 Monday – Friday 9-5pm
(+44) (0) 207 008 1500 Global Response Centre (out of hours)
You can email: firstname.lastname@example.org
As well as the Forced Marriage Unit, there are a number of organisations that can give you confidential advice and information.