Forced marriage

What’s forced marriage?

Forced marriage is when someone is forced to marry someone against their will. If this is happening to you or someone who you know, then you should get help straight away because being forced to marry someone is wrong.

How can the Forced Marriage Unit help?

The Forced Marriage Unit offers confidential advice if you or a friend or relative is in this situation. It’s understandable that you may feel too afraid or concerned to talk to someone about this, but this is the only way to do something about it and prevent it from happening.

Don’t worry – if you talk to the Forced Marriage Unit, they won’t tell your family that you’ve been in touch.

Trained professionals at the Forced Marriage Unit are there to help potential victims of forced marriages. They will offer confidential advice and help for anyone who:

  • Has been forced into a marriage overseas
  • Is at risk of being forced into a marriage
  • Is worried about their friends or family being forced into a marriage

There is a great difference between forced marriage and an arranged marriage, so the two should not be confused. Arranged marriages are popular in some cultures and are not the same thing as a forced marriage.

If you are in immediate danger of being forced into a marriage, then you should call the police straight away.

What’s the law on forced marriage?

The law offers protection for you, or someone you know, whether you are in danger of a forced marriage, or the marriage has already taken place.

Under the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007, individuals and third parties can apply for a Forced Marriage Protection Order to stop a forced marriage from going ahead. If the marriage has already happened, then individuals and third parties can investigate steps to recover a person which could lead to a Power of Arrest.

Local authorities are now classed as ‘Relevant Third Parties’ (RTP). This means they can make an application on behalf of someone who needs protection, without the permission of the court. Other third parties – such as relatives, friends, voluntary workers and police officers, will need the permission of the court.

Who can help?

You should talk to someone who you trust such as your teacher.

Call the Forced Marriage Unit on 020 7008 0151 between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday (UK time). Outside these hours, call 020 7008 1500 and ask for the Foreign Office Response Centre

Email the Forced Marriage Unit at

You can find more information about Forced Marriages on the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website at

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