Forced Marriage

A  Forced Marriage poster

A Forced Marriage is one that is carried out without the explicit consent of one or more of the marrying parties. These normally occur within contexts where arranged marriages are normative. While some marriages may be consensually arranged, there is some level of ambiguity between the forms of marriage. It is important to recognise that the distinction between the two forms should be based in consent, rather than in the existence of coercion.

Forced Marriage has numerous negative consequences, from the coercion of the parties to other types of abuse over the life of the marriage, including rape. It is most frequently women and girls that are pressurised into marriage: however, boys and young men are also at risk. Families may force marriage due to pressure from their own relatives, to keep control over young people, to build links with their families in their countries of origin, among other motivations.

Within the UK, the Forced Marriage Unit assists people at risk of Forced Marriage and under civil legislation, Forced Marriage Protection Orders, which allow a potential victim to secure legal protections can be sought. Proposals to make Forced Marriage into a criminal offence, as it is in many other European countries, have been adopted and will change the way that the UK deals with this enormous social problem.


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