LSCBLocal Safeguarding Children Board Northamptonshire

Forced marriage

Forced Marriage is when pressure or abuse is used to make someone marry against their will.

The pressure put on people to marry against their will can be:

  • Physical  - including threats, actual physical violence and sexual violence
  • Emotional and psychological - for example, when someone is made to feel like they’re bringing shame on their family
  • Financial - taking your wages or not giving you money

Forced marriage is wrong and it is illegal in the UK. It is recognised as a form of violence against women and men, domestic/child abuse and a serious abuse of human rights.

Arranged marriages and forced marriages… what’s the difference?

Arranged marriages are popular in some cultures and are not the same thing as a forced marriage.

In an arranged marriage, two families might come together and discuss the marriage with the two people involved. The parents then let the two people choose whether they want to get married or not.

In a forced marriage, the two people getting married do not have any choice - either the bride or the groom is being forced into it. The force might not be physical - it might be verbal or even emotional. Often the person is made to feel very guilty about not wanting to take part in the wedding.

What does the law say? 

The law on marriage in England and Wales says that the youngest age at which you can marry is 16 – but you must have your parent’s permission. When you’re 18 you can marry without your parent’s permission. 

The law also says that both of the people who are getting married must agree to it. 

What you should do if you're worried for yourself or someone else

Being forced to marry someone against your will is wrong and illegal. If this is happening to you, or a friend or relative, there are people who can help you.

  • Speak to someone you can trust like a teacher or social worker.
  • Contact the Forced Marriage Unit - they have specially trained staff who can help to work out an action plan for you or someone else. Call them in the UK on 020 7008 0151 or call from outside the UK on 0044 7008 0151 or email them at
  • If you’re in immediate danger, call the police now on 999.

If you are a professional working with a young person you fear is at risk of being forced to marry against their will please consult with the NSCB procedure here.

Helplines / Websites:

A new smartphone app that includes a check list of signs of forced marriage and links young people at risk to organisations that can help including Childine. It has been designed by the Metropolitan Police and the Freedom Charity to help young people at risk of forced marriage.  

Forced Marriage Unit at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
If you’ve been forced into marriage overseas or think you’re at risk of being forced into marriage or you’re worried about a friend or relative – you can talk to a trained professional who can help you work out a plan of action. Phone the Forced Marriage Unit on 020 7008 0151 (or if you’re overseas phone 0044 20 7008 0151.) You can also email the Forced Marriage Unit on or get information on their website in English, Arabic or Urdu.

Karma Nirvana
This organisation offers support, information and help with re-housing to victims of forced marriages, domestic violence and honour based crimes. It also offers a bi-lingual service. Phone their confidential helpline on 01332 604098.

Provides help and advice to young people on all matters including abuse, exploitation, and forced marriage. Phone their helpline on 0800 1111 any time of day or night. Calls are free from a landline (and currently from all the existing networks, including 3, BT Mobile, Fresh, O2, Orange, T Mobile, Virgin, and Vodafone). Calls don’t show up on any of these bills. (Please note there is a ‘Cover your tracks’ facility if you don’t want your visits to this website to show on your computer’s history.)

Last updated: 07 March 2023

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