Children and young people

Being pressured to marry someone you don’t want to?

It is illegal for someone to force one person to marry another in the UK. 

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 are pressured to or not)

If your family is trying to make you marry someone who you don’t want to marry this is called forced marriage and it is a type of domestic violence and abuse. Your family may try to make you marry the person using physical, mental or emotional pressure and violence against you.

There is a difference between a forced and an arranged marriage. In arranged marriages the families of both parties take a leading role in arranging the marriage, but the choice of whether or not to accept the arrangement remains with you.

Parents who force their children to marry often justify their behaviour as protecting their children, building stronger families and preserving cultural or religious traditions. They do not see anything wrong in their actions. However forced marriage cannot be justified on religious grounds.

You may find it extremely difficult to speak out about your family members if they are trying to force you to marry, as you may be worried about being rejected by your family or community. However you have a right to choose who you want to marry. If you are worried about forced marriage then talking to someone can help.

Need help? It is also possible for victims or those at risk to apply for a Forced Marriage Protection Order (FMPO). As a civil law measure, an application for a FMPO would be made in the family court. Up-to-date guidance about forced marriage from the government. If you are in immediate danger then you should call 999. To talk to someone and get advice please contact the Safe to Talk Helpline on 0800 111 4998