Forced Marriage

What is forced marriage? (FM)

Forced marriage (FM): One or both spouses do not consent to the marriage or where consent is extracted under duress.

A forced marriage is a marriage conducted without valid consent of one or both parties, and some form of duress is involved. This could be emotional pressure – for example, parents may insist that rejection of this marriage partner would bring shame to the family; or arrangements for marriage might be made (perhaps abroad) without intended bride being told the purpose of the trip. The majority of victims of forced marriage are female, and forced marriage is a form of domestic violence and violence against women.

There is a difference between forced marriage and the tradition of arranged marriages.  In arranged marriages the families of both spouses take a leading role in arranging the marriage but the individuals concerned are given a free choice whether or not to accept the arrangement. 

There is often a relationship between forced marriage and Honour Based Violence, though HBV can occur where there is no evidence of FM, and FM can be motivated by reasons other than honour, such as finance/visa application.

Laws to prevent forced marriages and provide a way out for those already in an unwanted union were introduced in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in November 2008. Anyone - including a victim, friend or local authority - can ask a court to implement a Forced Marriage Protection Order (FMPO). This can stop a person being married against their will and prevent them from being taken abroad.

The FMPOs can also demand that perpetrators stop any intimidation, reveal the victim's location and hand over passports otherwise they could face imprisonment. A person convicted of coercing somebody to marry could be jailed for up to two years.

If you are worried you might be forced into marriage or are worried about a friend or relative you can call Swindon Women’s Aid on 01793 610610 or call the Forced Marriage Unit in confidence on 0207 008 0151.

In the event of an emergency where you are in immediate harm always call 999

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