Forced marriage is where a person is coerced into marrying someone against their will. Pressure is exerted to accept a marriage proposal and this may be accompanied by emotional pressure, violence, sexual abuse. In 2006 the Home Office Minister Baroness Scotland stated “forced marriage is an abuse of human rights and a form of domestic violence which cannot be justified on religious or cultural grounds”.
Forced marriage is different to an arranged marriage where there is a choice and consent from both parties.
At present anyone found guilty of forcing someone into marriage can be prosecuted for kidnap, false imprisonment or rape. Later this year victims will have further protection when the Forced Marriage Civil Protection Act is implemented.
Victims do feel very isolated and often that there is no way out of their situation, but there are people who can give help, advice, information and support so it is important to speak out and not put up with something which is clearly an infringement of the human rights of any individual. A person has a right to choose who they wish to marry and have a right not to be forced into something against her/his will.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has set up a dedicated unit - The Forced Marriage Unit - which has a helpline staffed by trained professionals who can give advice and assistance to those who have been forced into marriage overseas or are at risk of being forced into marriage. They can also provide advice and support for people who may be worried about relatives and friends who find themselves victims of forced marriages.
If you need help or advice contact one of the following agencies.