Forced marriage is a form of “honour” based abuse. A forced marriage is where one or both people do not, or cannot consent to the marriage and pressure, coercion, or abuse is used to force them into the marriage. Forced marriage is illegal in the UK. It is a serious abuse of human rights.

The pressure put on a person to marry can take different forms. Physical pressure might take the form of threats or violence (including sexual violence). Emotional or psychological pressure might take the form of making someone feel they are bringing dishonour 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.

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.

For a marriage to be consensual, it must be entered into freely by both people getting married. You should feel you have a choice. Legally, people with certain learning disabilities or severe mental health conditions are not able to consent to marriage, even if they feel the marriage is what they want.

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 without any pressure.

If you consent to marry, but later change your mind, yet still feel that you will be required to go ahead with the marriage, it is a forced marriage. 

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