A forced marriage is when someone is made to marry another person who they don’t want to.

Forced marriages can happen in secret and can also be planned by parents, family or religious leaders. It may involve physical abuse, sexual abuse or emotional abuse.

Forced marriage is illegal in England and Wales. This includes:

  • taking someone overseas to force them to marry (whether or not the forced marriage takes place)
  • marrying someone who lacks the mental capacity to consent to the marriage (whether they’re pressured to or not)

Forcing someone to marry can result in a sentence of up to 7 years in prison.

You can apply for a Forced Marriage Protection Order if one of the following applies:

  • you or someone else is being threatened with a forced marriage
  • you’re in a forced marriage

The order will be designed to protect you according to your individual circumstances, eg to stop someone taking you out of the UK.

Disobeying a Forced Marriage Protection Order can result in a sentence of up to 5 years in prison.

Worried someone is at risk of a forced marriage?

If you think somebody has been taken out of the country to be forced into marriage, contact the forced marriage unit immediately.

Try to give as many details as you can, including:

  • where the person has gone
  • when they were due back
  • when you last heard from them

Where can I get help?

Nobody has the right to force you to do something you don't want to do. You have the right to choose who you marry, when you marry, if you marry at all.

Forced Marriage Unit - 0207 008 0151

Contact the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) if you’re trying to stop a forced marriage or you need help leaving a marriage you’ve been forced into.

Merseyside Police - 101

Merseyside Police will investigate all reports of forced marriage. They have a specialist team of officers who will listen to you and work with you to keep you safe and investigate any criminal actions.

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, always call 999.

Savera UK - 0800 107 0726

If you do not wish to speak to the police, the Commissioner works with Liverpool-based charity Savera UK to provide fast, non-judgemental and confidential support to anyone affected by ‘honour’-based abuse and harmful practices, regardless of age, culture, sexuality or gender.

Savera UK

You can also contact:

Childline - 0800 1111

Freedom Charity - 0845 607 0133

Charity for children and young people who are at risk or subject to honour based crimes/ forced marriages.

Karma Nirvana - 0800 5999 247

Supporting victims of honour crimes and forced marriages since 1993.