A forced marriage is a marriage in which one or both spouses do not (or, in the case of some adults with learning or physical disabilities, cannot) consent to the marriage and duress is involved. Duress can include physical, psychological, financial, sexual and emotional pressure.
The UK Government regards forced marriage as an abuse of human rights, a form of domestic violence, and a form of violence against women and men. It is also against the law.
Forced marriage can affect any person, regardless of gender, age, disability, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.
The UK Government Forced Marriage Unit (a joint Home Office/Foreign and Commonwealth Office Unit set up to tackle the issue) defines forced marriage as follows:
‘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.’
There is a clear distinction between a forced marriage and an arranged marriage. In arranged marriages, the families of both spouses take a leading role in arranging the marriage but the choice whether or not to accept the arrangement remains with the prospective spouses.
For further information please the Government's website for guidance on Forced Marriage.