If you are being pressured to marry someone or are made to marry someone without your consent, this is called ‘forced marriage’. It is against the law and is a form of domestic abuse.
We all have the right to choose who we love and who we want to spend our lives with. Forced marriage is an extreme violation of your human rights.
It is illegal to:
- Force or pressure someone to marry without their consent
- Take someone abroad to force them to marry (even if the marriage doesn’t actually take place)
- Force someone to marry who doesn’t have the mental capacity to consent to the marriage (whether they are pressured into it or not)
Sometimes it is parents forcing their child to get married, or sometimes it is the extended family or community. It can happen between people in this country or between someone from this country with someone abroad.
How it can affect you
Someone may force you to marry using violence or threats of violence and sexual violence. They may use emotional blackmail to force you to marry, suggesting that you are bringing shame on yourself or the family. You may be socially isolated until you ‘come round’. Your freedoms and finances may also be restricted.
As well as coping with any physical violence, you are likely to feel scared, isolated, and anxious. You might be worried about making a report to the police because you don’t want anything to happen to the people forcing you to marry, but you may also feel scared about the position they are putting you in.
It is normal to feel this way and you are not alone. You may feel that that there is no way out of your situation, but help is available.
What you can do
Forced marriage protection orders
You can apply for a Forced Marriage Protection Order if you’re in a forced marriage, or you or someone else is being threatened with forced marriage. It’s free, but you should check that you’re eligible to apply, and you will need to attend a hearing.
The order is a legal document issued by a judge, designed to protect individuals based on their particular circumstances. It contains legally binding conditions which can prevent anyone from taking you abroad or entering you into a marriage contract. If someone breaches the order, this is a criminal offence and the police will get involved.
You could qualify for legal aid to help you with legal costs.
Forced marriage is against the law and is wrong, but even if you really don’t want to talk to the police or other agencies then please think about the following safety advice if you think you may be forced into a marriage in this country or abroad:
- Keep a copy of your passport including dual nationality passports
- Tell a trusted friend if you are travelling abroad and give them addresses of where you will be staying and also details of your return flight so they can alert the police if you fail to return on that date
- Have a spare mobile to hand that you can be contacted on and leave the number with trusted people so you are contactable
- Memorise police phone numbers, and/or email addresses of the Forced Marriage unit and trusted friends in case you have to call them in an emergency
- Have addresses of British Embassies available
The police encourage victims of forced marriage to get help from them. They have specialist officers who can deal with issues, and who will help and support you through the process.
The police will respect your wishes, respect confidentiality, establish lines of communication and provide appropriate support and guidance via a number of support agencies.
Specialist domestic abuse investigators
You can contact your local Specialist Domestic Abuse Investigators for help, advice and support.
In an emergency: dial 999
An emergency is when a crime is being committed or has just been witnessed, there is a risk of injury, or a risk of serious damage to property.
In a non-emergency: dial 101
Use this number to report a non-emergency incident or make a general inquiry.
Contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Crimestoppers is a charity which is entirely independent of police and never share details with police of people who have got in touch.
Find help and support
We can help.
Forced Marriage Unit
The Forced Marriage Unit runs a helpline that provide advice and support to victims of forced marriage as well as people and professionals who are worried about someone else who is at risk.
They can also help to bring you back to this country if you have been forced into a marriage abroad.
Karma Nirvana is a UK registered charity that supports victims and survivors of Forced Marriage and Honour Based Abuse.
- Helpline 0800 5999247
Greater Manchester Police
Their website contains information about forced marriage, including a list of support agencies who can help you.