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Forced Marriage


A forced marriage is a marriage in which one or both spouses do not (or, in the case of some adults with learning or physical disabilities, cannot) consent to the marriage and duress is involved. Duress can include physical, psychological, financial, sexual and emotional pressure.


There is a clear distinction between a forced marriage and an arranged marriage. In arranged marriages, the 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.


The ‘Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act’ 2014, made it a criminal offence to coerce a person into marriage or to be involved in the deception of entering a person into a marriage in or outside the UK. 


Forced Marriage Protection Orders can be sought under section 4A of the Family Law Act 1996 which is tailored to support anyone at risk of being forced into marriage.



Useful documents


The right to choose: government guidance on forced marriage - GOV.UK (


Home Office Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Strategy 2016-2020


Resources: Publications from the Home Office


FILM - Forced Marriage Unit video showing impact of forced marriage


Forced Marriage Unit Statistics 2018 (Published by Home Office and Foreign & Commonwealth Office in May 2019)