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A forced marriage is a marriage conducted without valid consent of one or both parties, or when one person is unable to consent 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 the marriage might be made (perhaps abroad) without the 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 and girls.
There is a difference between forced marriage and the tradition of arranged marriage. 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.
Forced marriage is a devastating practice and is illegal in England and Wales.
Forced Marriage Protection Orders have been introduced to protect victims from being forced into marriage. An order can also be made to protect someone who has already been forced into marriage to help remove them from the situation. The FMU can tell you how to 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.
Forcing someone to marry can result in a sentence of up to 7 years in prison.
There are often links between forced marriage (FM) and honour based violence (HBV) though HBV can occur where there is no evidence of a FM and FM can be motivated by reasons other than honour, such as finances / visa application.
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office provides information about forced marriage and can intervene to make you safe.
Forced Marriage Unit Helpline: 0207 008 0151
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