A marriage is forced when one partner (or both) has been pressurised into the marriage by means of threats, pressure or physical violence.
The threats need not always be physical. They can be financial, for example threatening to cut family ties, or even emotional, for instance a young person might be accused of bringing shame on the family if they do not go ahead with the wedding.
Pushing someone who cannot possibly consent into a wedding is also considered to be forced marriage, e.g. someone with severe learning disabilities.
Forced marriage and the law
In the UK, forced marriage is seen as a form of domestic/child abuse and an abuse of human rights. As a result, it is a criminal offence to force one person to marry another and being party to a forced marriage can result in a seven-year prison sentence.
Applying for a Forced Marriage Protection Order
If you are concerned that you might be forced into marriage, you can obtain a Forced Marriage Protection Order through the civil courts.
If you don’t have much time, you can apply for an Emergency Order. Breach of either order may result in five years in prison.
In an emergency call the Forced Marriage Unit on 020 7008 0151 or the police on 999.