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Forced Marriage

A forced marriage is where one or both people do not (or in cases of people with learning disabilities, cannot) consent to the marriage and pressure or abuse is used. It is an appalling and indefensible practice and is recognised in the UK as a form of violence against women and men, domestic/child abuse and a serious abuse of human rights.

The pressure put on people to marry against their will can be physical (including threats, actual physical violence and sexual violence) or emotional and psychological (for example, when someone is made to feel like they’re bringing shame on their family). Financial abuse (taking your wages or not giving you any money) can also be a factor. https://www.gov.uk/forced-marriage

“When you come of age they consider that you’re ready for marriage.I was homeless, basically on the street. I was terrified because I didn’t know anybody, I didn’t know what to do and what will happen but one thing I did know. I wanted to have my freedom, I was still a child”.



Since 2012, the Forced mariage unit (FMU) has provided support to between 1,200 and 1,400 cases per year. 


This means that in addition to applying for a Forced Marriage Protection Order (FMPO) to prevent someone from being forced into marriage, victims are also able to report the offence to the police. If someone chooses to report to the police, the case will be referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). The CPS will then decide whether to proceed with a prosecution. The CPS may decide to pursue the case with or without the victim’s consent.

You can contact the Forced Marriage Unit: fmu@fco.gov.uk

Telephone: 020 7008 0151

Points to consider

Forced marriage is not an issue that is specific to any religion, ethnic group or culture.

Forced marriages are not the same as arranged marriages. In an arranged marriage, whilst family members match the couple to be married, either party has a choice as to whether or not to agree with the marriage.

Forced marriage is sometimes interpreted as a religious practice but it cannot be justified on religious grounds: every major faith condemns it, and freely given consent is a prerequisite of Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh marriages.

Warning signs

The Forced Marriage Unit, a joint initiative between the FCO and the Home Office, has identified a number of tell-tale signs that may suggest a child is vulnerable to a forced marriage:

Other signs may include persistent absence; requests for extended leave; a decline in behaviour, performance or punctuality; not being allowed to attend extra-curricular activities or the sudden announcement of an engagement to a stranger.

Our Girl Film 

‘Our Girl’ is a three minute film aimed at getting communities talking and acting towards putting a stop to forced marriage. The film is part animated and it features several filmed scenarios, all based on true cases of forced marriage. 

Our Girl from Animage Films  in partnership with the Forced Marriage Unit and AVA (Against Violence and Abuse). The film was written and directed by Ruth Beni and animated by the Oscar nominated artist Erica Russell.

AVA developed a Resource Pack to accompany the film which is available here.

Films from the Forced Marriage Unit

Right to choose: Spotting the signs of forced marriage – Nayana

Right to choose: Spotting the signs of forced marriage – Jess

Right to choose: Spotting the signs of forced marriage – Azim