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Forced Marriage

What is forced marriage?

A forced marriage is where one or both people do not or cannot consent to the marriage and pressure or abuse is used to force them into the marriage.

Any person may be forced into marriage – this includes people of all ages, genders, ethnicities and religions.

Forced marriage is illegal in the UK.

It is a form of domestic abuse and a serious abuse of human rights.

The pressure put on people to marry against their will may be:

  • Physical threats e.g. physical violence or sexual violence.
  • Emotional and psychological e.g. making someone feel like they are bringing ‘shame’ on their family, making them believe that those close to them may become vulnerable to illness if they don’t marry, or denying them freedom or money unless they agree to the marriage
  • Financial abuse, for example taking someone’s wages.

However, when the person who is to get married is aged under 18, doing anything to make them marry is a crime – it doesn’t have to be pressure.

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.

Forced Marriage – A Survivor’s Handbook

This handbook can be given out be professionals, as it provides practical support and information for anyone who:

• is at risk of a forced marriage
• has experienced a forced marriage
• has escaped from a forced marriage


Local information regarding Forced Marriage – Forced marriages | Saferwallsall (

What is an arranged marriage?

When it comes to the marriage of adults, an arranged marriage is not the same as a forced marriage. In an arranged marriage, the families take a leading role in choosing the marriage partner, but both individuals are free to choose whether they want to enter into the marriage.

When it comes to the marriage of children (up to 18), there is no distinction between arranged marriage and forced marriage.

Stop Child Marriage

Doing anything to cause a child to get married is a forced marriage – and a crime!

What is the Forced Marriage Unit?

The Forced Marriage Unit provides support and advice for victims, those at risk and professionals.

The Forced Marriage Unit can provide advice and assistance both before and after you report to the police, and also if you choose not to report at all. The support offered ranges from providing information and guidance to helping British victims overseas return to the UK.

Caseworkers have experience in dealing with the cultural, social and emotional issues surrounding forced marriage.

The Forced Marriage Unit can offer advice and support to anyone who is in the UK, regardless of nationality. Overseas, our British Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates can provide consular assistance to British nationals (including dual nationals), and in certain circumstances to a Commonwealth national.


  • (+44) (0) 207 008 0151 Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm
  • (+44) (0) 207 008 1500 Global Response Centre (out of hours)
  • email:

Guidance for professionals:

The government is committed to ensure that professionals who are made aware of a forced marriage victim have the training and guidance they need to provide effective advice and support. This includes police officers, social workers, teachers, and safeguarding professionals.

The Force Marriage Unit (FMU) has created:

The FMU has also developed free forced marriage e-learning for professionals.

The modules aim to enable professionals to recognise the warning signs and ensure that appropriate action is taken to help protect and support all those at risk.

Please email if you have problems registering.