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Forced marriage

On 16th June 2014, new legislation​ was introduced which means that forced marriage is a crime. Under the new legislation, anyone found guilty of forced marriage can face up to seven years imprisonment. 

Forced marriage is a crime where one or both spouses do not, or cannot, consent to the marriage and duress is involved. This can include physical, psychological, financial, sexual and emotional pressure. 

In some cases victims suffer violence and abuse. Forced marriage is not the same as an ‘arranged marriage’ which is a cultural practice, which is not unlawful, and involves the consent of both spouses.

If you or someone you know is being forced into marriage, there is help and advice available.

A forced marriage is an abuse of human rights, and a form of domestic abuse and child abuse. It has no place in our society.

What is a ‘forced marriage’?

A marriage must be entered into with the full and free consent of both people. A ‘forced marriage’ occurs when one or both people are ‘forced’ into a marriage - it is done without the valid consent of both people.

Examples of force

  • Physical pressure, abuse or physical threats.
  • Emotional pressure, abuse or emotional threats - when someone makes you feel like you’re bringing shame on your family, for example.
  • Abduction and imprisonment.
  • Other restrictions on freedom of movement and association.

What is an ‘arranged marriage’?

 
  • A ‘forced marriage’ is different to an ‘arranged marriage’.
  • An arranged marriage is a valuable, long-established tradition based on compatibility, consent and retaining choice.
  • The families take a leading role in choosing the marriage partner and the marriage is entered into freely by both people.

Report forced marriage

If you or someone you know is being forced into marriage, either in the United Kingdom or abroad, please contact the Forced Marriage Unit.

They can provide confidential support and information.



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