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Forced marriage

A forced marriage is when you feel that you cannot say ‘no’ to a marriage.

What is forced marriage?

People of all genders and ages and from all communities and backgrounds can be victims of a forced marriage. Those effected may face physical pressure to marry (e.g. threats, physical violence or sexual violence) and/or emotional and psychological pressure (e.g. if you’re made to feel like you’re bringing shame on their family).

A forced marriage is not the same as an arranged marriage. An arranged marriage is when the families are involved in helping to choose the marriage partner, but it is the choice of both the bride and groom whether they want to get married or not. A forced marriage is when they have no choice or feel that they have no choice.

Forced marriage is illegal in England and Wales and is seen as a form of domestic and/or child abuse. It includes:

  • Conducting a marriage conducted without the valid consent of one or both parties and where duress is a factor.
  • 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).


The Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) operates a public helpline to provide advice and support. Call them on 020 7008 0151 or from overseas: +44 (0)20 7008 0151. Open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. If out of hours: 020 7008 1500 (ask for the Global Response Centre).

Next Link offer crisis support and safe temporary supported housing to women and children experiencing domestic abuse. 0117 925 0680 or visit their website here.

The Sky Project, based in Bristol, provides information and support for professionals, communities and individuals on issues around forced marriage. Visit their website here.

Contact Forced Marriage Abroad if you think you’re about to be taken abroad to get married against your will. Contact the nearest British embassy if you’re already abroad.

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