A forced marriage is when someone is made to marry another person who they don’t want to. Forced marriages can happen in secret and can also be planned by parents, family or religious leaders. It may involve physical abuse, sexual abuse or emotional abuse.
Forced marriage is illegal in England and Wales. 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)
Forcing someone to marry can result in a sentence of up to 7 years in prison.
You can apply for a Forced Marriage Protection Order if one of the following applies:
- you or someone else is being threatened with a forced marriage
- you’re in a forced marriage
The order will be designed to protect you according to your individual circumstances, eg to stop someone taking you out of the UK.
Disobeying a Forced Marriage Protection Order can result in a sentence of up to 5 years in prison.
Worried someone is at risk of a forced marriage?
If you think somebody has been taken out of the country to be forced into marriage, contact the forced marriage unit immediately.
Try to give as many details as you can, including:
- where the person has gone
- when they were due back
- when you last heard from them
Where can I get further help or information?
Nobody has the right to force you to do something you don't want to do. You have the right to choose who you marry, when you marry, if you marry at all.
Forced Marriage Unit - 0207 008 0151
Contact the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) if you’re trying to stop a forced marriage or you need help leaving a marriage you’ve been forced into.
Childline - 0800 1111
Freedom Charity - 0845 607 0133
Charity for children and young people who are at risk or subject to honour based crimes/ forced marriages.
Ashiana Project London - 0208 539 0427
Southall Black Sisters - 0208 571 0800
Not for profit organisation set up to meet the needs of black (Asian and African-Caribbean) and minority ethnic women.
Iranian and Kurdish Women's Rights Organisation (IKWRO) - 0207 490 0303
Support and advice in Arabic, Kurdish, Turkish and Farsi to women, girls and men living in Britain about issues such as domestic abuse and ‘honour’ based issues.
Karma Nirvana - 0800 5999 247
Supporting victims of honour crimes and forced marriages since 1993.
Henna Foundation - 029 20496920
A charity working to support and protect victims of ‘honour’ related crime, domestic abuse and forced marriages.
Savera UK - 0800 107 0726