What is forced marriage?

Forced marriage is where one or both people do not or cannot consent to the marriage and pressure, coercion or abuse by family members or others is used to force them into marriage.

Forced marriage is not an issue that is specific to any religion, ethnic group or culture. Every major faith condemns forced marriage. 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:

  • taking someone overseas to force them to marry (whether or not the forced marriage takes place)
  • marrying someone who lacks the mental capacity to consent to the marriage (whether they’re pressured to or not)
  • breaching a Forced Marriage Protection Order is also a criminal offence

A Forced Marriage Protection Order available through the family courts (civil courts) continues to exist alongside the criminal offence, so victims can choose how they wish to be assisted.

For support

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 available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for women, children and men experiencing domestic abuse, sexual violence or other forms of violence against women.