Forced Marriage

What is 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 where pressure or ABUSE is used. Pressure can be physical (threats of violence or actual violence) financial, sexual or emotional, for example making someone feel they are bringing SHAME on the family.

What is the impact of forced marriage?

Forced marriage transcends many cultures, religions, class, gender and sexuality and can result in false imprisonment, kidnapping, threats of violence, blackmail, rape, assault, domestic violence and so called ‘honour’ based abuse. It is an appalling and indefensible practice and is recognised in the UK as a form of violence against women and children, domestic/child abuse and a serious abuse of human rights.

If you or someone you know is being forced into a marriage, help and advice is available here or visit the partners pages for regional help and advice.


What is Violence Against Women & Girls? (VAWG)

The internationally agreed definition of VAWG is any act of gender-based violence likely to result in ‘physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women [or girls]’
Source: UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, Article 1, 1993.

Forced marriage and honour based violence is part of the spectrum of violence against women and girls (VAWG)

48% FM 16-25 years
17k women subject to honour based abuse
2015 98 cases women 24 cases men
FM destroys lives
12 women murdered due to honour killings
FM is a criminal offence
80% FM female victims 60% S Asia

Forced Marriage Warning Signs

Victims facing a forced marriage may not find it easy express their concerns, but there are some warning signs that may indicate the possibility of an impending or forced marriage, we have listed some below but are aware these signs alone do not mean someone is at risk, always contact a specialist service provider for advice.



Failure to return from visits to country of origin

Surveillance by siblings or cousins

Poor performance in class/disengaged

Being removed from education by those with parental responsibility

Prevented from further education

Announcement of engagement to a stranger

Not allowed to attend extra-curricular activities


Sudden changes in behaviour/performance.

Limited career choices

Leaving/Arriving work accompanied

Unable to attend business trips or functions

Subject to financial control e.g. confiscation of wages/income

Not allowed to work Inflexible working


History of self-harm/ suicide/early marriage

Confiscation of mobile/ laptop/money

Running away from home

Restricted movement Fear of going home

Police involvement

Reports of domestic abuse or breaches of the peace at the family home

Other siblings wishing the family reported missing

Victim reported for offences e.g. shoplifting/ substances misuse

Reports of other offences such as rape, assault or kidnappings


Accompanied to doctors or clinic

Self harm/Attempted suicide

Eating disorders


Substance misuse

Early/Unwanted pregnancy

Female genital mutilation

Sudden removal from a day centre of a person with a physical/learning disability

Affected by forced marriage?

If you or someone you know is at risk of forced marriage, you can contact the Forced Marriage unit on 020 7008 0151 or The Sharan Project on 0844 5043231.
If in immediate danger call the police on 999