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Forced Marriage

A forced marriage occurs when either or both parties have been pressured into marrying, without giving their consent and some element of duress is involved. Duress can involve physical and sexual abuse or may involve psychological and emotional pressure. For example family members may insist that rejection of the marriage may bring shame to the family; or arrangements for the marriage may be made without the intended bride/groom being told the purpose of the trip.


A marriage is also a forced marriage if a person is unable (in the case of vulnerable adults) to give their consent.

It is not at all the same as the cultural tradition of an arranged marriage. In an arranged marriage the families of both spouse take a leading role in arranging the marriage but both the bride and groom are given complete choice as to whether to accept the marriage or not. All major religions reflect that the consent of a person is fundamental to a legitimate marriage.

The legal minimum age at which a person can consent to marriage is 16 years with parental consent.

The majority of forced marriages affect female victims but also increasingly male and homosexual victims are affected.

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

What do I do if I am being pressured to marry against my wishes?

You must contact us immediately to obtain advice in respect of a Forced Marriage Protection Order. An application can be made in an emergency to obtain urgent and immediate protection to a person being forced into marriage. If you believe you, or somebody you know may be taken out of the country for the purpose of being forced into marriage you can call our emergency helpline on 0845 450 5616.

We can apply to the court for an initial order without the knowledge of the person/persons forcing you to marry.

What is a Forced Marriage Protection Order?

An order from the court protecting a person from being forced into a marriage.

A Forced Marriage Protection Order can place numerous conditions/restrictions on a person or numerous people in order to prevent the marriage from taking place.

The types of conditions and restrictions include:

  • Forbidding a person or persons from forcing somebody into a marriage
  • Forbidding a person or persons from taking a person abroad
  • Requiring a person to surrender travel documents including passports
  • Forbidding intimidation, harassment, violence or threats of violence against the person being forced into marriage
  • Forbidding a person from contacting or attempting to contact the person being forced into the marriage

I am worried I am being taken abroad to be married – what can I do?

If you believe that you may become a victim of forced marriage please contact us for immediate advice. At the very least give somebody that you can trust, full details of where you may be staying, contact telephone numbers, flight details and your passport details.

What can I do if I am already abroad?

We are still able to help you even if you are abroad. It is important that either you or somebody contacts us as a matter of urgency as we have experience of representing clients living, working or travelling abroad.

Do I have to go to the police?

No. Even though Forced Marriage was made a criminal offence in June 2014 we understand that many victims do not want to involve the police. They do not want their family to be punished but merely wish to be protected from marrying against their will. The police can help to protect you though if you are at imminent risk of harm.

What can I do if I am worried that somebody else is being forced into marriage?

An application for a Forced Marriage Protection Order can be made not just by the victim but includes applications by:

  • A relevant third party (Local Authorities)
  • Any other person who has sought permission from the court

If you are worried about somebody you know being forced into marriage it is important that you seek advice from us in relation to this. You are able, with permission of the court, to apply for an order on their behalf to protect them from the forced marriage. You may be entitled to legal aid for this purpose.

Is Legal Aid available?

Legal aid is available in many circumstances to obtain a Forced Marriage Protection Order. We can advise if you are likely to be eligible for legal aid.

What support is available?

There are many organisations who offer support and advice to those who feel they will be or are being forced into a marriage. A&N are known for our exceptional client care. We have a dedicated Client Care Manager who is able to assist in terms of accessing support for those of our clients who need it.

We also have a number of staff who speak a range of languages including Slovak, German, French, Urdu, Punjabi, Czech, Turkish, Kurdish and Somali.


Talk to someone

Call us for a chat on:
03300 245750
Or we can call you back using our call back feature at the top of the page.

  • What do I do if I am being pressured to marry against my wishes?

  • You must contact us immediately to obtain advice in respect of a Forced Marriage Protection Order.

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