Forced Marriage

What is Forced Marriage?

You have the right to choose who you marry, when you marry or if you marry at all.

Forced marriage is when you face physical pressure to marry (eg threats, physical violence or sexual violence) or emotional and psychological pressure (eg if you’re made to feel like you’re bringing shame on your family).

Is Forced Marriage Legal?

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)

Forcing someone to marry can result in a sentence of up to 7 years in prison.

What can I do if I think I am at risk of forced marriage?

If you believe you are at risk of force marriage you can:

  • You can call the North Yorkshire Customer Contact Centre and ask to speak to Children's Social Care on 01609 780780
  • Contact the Forced Marriage Unit if you think you’re about to be taken abroad to get married against your will
  • If you have been taken abroad to get married against your will, contact the nearest British Embassy (see for details of your nearest British embassies)

You can ask the court for a forced marriage protection order.  Each order is unique, and is designed to protect you according to your individual circumstances. For example, the court may order someone to hand over your passport or reveal where you are.  In an emergency, an order can be made to protect you immediately.  Disobeying a forced marriage protection order can result in a sentence of up to 5 years in prison.

Who are the Forced Marriage Unit and where can I contact them?

The Forced Marriage Unit is a joint Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Home Office unit was which set up to lead on the Government’s forced marriage policy, outreach and casework. It operates both inside the UK, where support is provided to any individual, and overseas, where consular assistance is provided to British nationals, including dual nationals.  The Forced Marriage Unit operated Monday to Friday, 9:00am to 5:00pm.  Outside office hours the Global Response Centre can be contacted.  Contact details are as follows:

The FMU operates a public helpline to provide advice and support to victims of forced marriage as well as to professionals dealing with cases. The assistance provided ranges from simple safety advice, through to aiding a victim to prevent their unwanted spouse moving to the UK, and, in extreme circumstances, to rescues of victims held against their will overseas.

What can you do if someone you know is at risk of forced Marriage?

You can call the North Yorkshire Customer Contact Centre and ask to speak to Children's Social Care on 01609 780780.

Contact the Forced Marriage Unit if you know someone who’s been taken abroad to be forced into marriage.

Give as many details as you can, for example:

  • where the person has gone
  • when they were due back
  • when you last heard from them

The Forced Marriage Unit will contact the relevant embassy.

If they’re a British national, the embassy will try to contact the person and help them get back to the UK if that’s what they want.

I have been a victim of forced marriage, is there anywhere I can get more information?

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office have produced a Forced Marriage: A Survivors Handbook.  This book will give you useful and practical information to help you take control of your life and focus on the future.  The handbook can be downloaded from:

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