Forced Marriage

There is a clear difference between a ‘forced marriage’ and an ‘arranged marriage’

Arranged marriages have worked well in society for many years. An arranged marriage is when families of both spouses take a leading role in arranging the marriage but the choice whether or not to accept the arrangement remains with the prospective spouses.

A forced marriage is when one or both parties do not consent to the marriage, and people are forced into marriage against their will.

Forced marriage is an abuse of human rights. Both physical and emotional abuse may be used to coerce people into the marriage.

Legislation and the Law

In law both parties to a marriage must validly consent to the marriage, the minimum age a person is able to consent to a marriage is 16.

A Force Marriage Protection Order can be obtained from a Family Court in order to protect victims, both adults and children of a potential forced marriage or people who are already in a forced marriage.

The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 makes 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

Multi Agency Practice Guidance

HM Government have published multi agency practice guidance for professionals, the latest guidance (2014) contains information for all professionals working with children who may be at risk of or involved in a forced marriage.

Specialist Help and Advice

Specialist help and advice can be obtained from a variety of sources including:

Forced Marriage Unit

The Forced Marriage Unit is a joint initiative of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Home Office. Their trained professionals offer confidential advice and assistance to:

  • those who have been forced into marriage
  • those at risk of being forced into marriage
  • people worried about friends or relatives
  • professionals working with actual or potential victims of forced marriage

The Forced Marriage Unit can be contacted on 020 7008 0151

 Henna Foundation 02920 498600 / 496920

The Henna Foundation (formally known as All Wales Saheli Assoc) is a third sector registered charity, committed to strengthening families within the Muslim Community. The Foundation works nationally and internationally to advance the needs, concerns and aspirations of Muslim women, children and the families that they live with in.

Karma Nirvana 0800 5999247

Karma Nirvana is a UK registered Charity that supports victims and survivors of Forced Marriage and Honour Based Abuse. It was named in the hope that the work it seeks to undertake would make a positive impact on the lives of individuals who would by our involvement achieve a sense of peace and ultimately enlightenment.

Southall Black Sisters 0208 571 9595

Southall Black Sisters is a not-for-profit organisation set up in 1979 to meet the needs of black (Asian and African-Caribbean) and minority ethnic women. For more than three decades they have been at the forefront of challenging domestic and gender violence locally and nationally.