A forced marriage is where one or both parties do not (or in cases of people with learning disabilities, cannot) consent to the marriage, and pressure or abuse is being used. It is recognised in the UK as a form of violence - domestic abuse and child abuse - against women and girls as well as men and boys, and is a serious abuse of human rights.
The pressure put on people to marry against their will can be physical (including threats of and/or actual physical violence and sexual violence) or emotional and psychological (for example, when someone is made to feel like they're bringing shame on their family). Financial abuse such as taking your wages or not giving you any money can also be a factor.
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)
Who can I contact?
If you are affected by forced marriage, or you are concerned that someone is at risk of forced marriage and/or honour-based violence in the UK, you should contact:
West Midlands Police on 101 (999 in an emergency), or
The Forced Marriage Unit.
Telephone: 020 7008 0151
From overseas: +44 (0)20 7008 0151
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm
Out of hours: 020 7008 1500 (ask for the Global Response Centre)
The Forced Marriage Unit can also help you find a safe place to stay or stop a UK visa if you've been forced to sponsor someone.
Useful information and resources about forced marriage can be found below:
- Guidance on applying for a Forced Marriage Protection Order
- A survivors handbook to forced marriage
- Forced Marriage Protection Order information in Arabic and Bengali.
- www.childline.org.uk - advice for children and young people
- www.ikwro.org.uk/forced-marriage The Iranian and Kurdish Women's Rights Organisation
- www.mwnuk.co.uk Muslim Women's Network
- Wolverhampton City has a Multi-Agency Forced Marriage & Honour Based Violence Protocol, which you may also find useful. It gives you lots of information on the agencies involved throughout the city in dealing with cases or suspected cases of Forced marriage.
- If your first language is not English, these posters in: