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.
What does forced marriage look like?
- Physical pressure: threats, physical violence or sexual violence.
- Emotional and psychological pressure: making be used to make someone feel like they will bring shame on the family.
- Financial pressure: withholding someone’s wages or restricting access to money.
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. 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.
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.
- Call 0808 80 10 800
- Email [email protected]
- Text 07860 077333
- Visit https://gov.wales/live-fear-free/contact-live-fear-free to use our webchat service.