Forced marriage

A marriage must be entered into with the full and free consent of both people. Everyone involved should feel that they have a choice.

A forced marriage is not the same as an arranged marriage. In an arranged marriage the families take a leading role in choosing the partner and the marriage is entered into freely by both people.

A 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.

You might be put under both physical pressure (when someone threatens to or actually does hurt you), or emotional pressure (for example, when someone makes you feel like you're bringing shame on your family) to get married.

In some cases people may be taken abroad without knowing that they are to be married. When they arrive in that country their passports may be taken by their family to try and stop them from returning home.

Forced marriage is abuse! It is not a cultural tradition - it is an abuse of human rights.

If you or someone you know is being forced into a marriage, help and advice is available.

"Married to the Streets" is a video written, produced and starring young people from Sandwell. The video tells the story of Reshma, a young woman in love and what happens when Reshma’s family find out through the community of her relationship. The video was made by Tipton Young Asian Women’s Forum (0121 557 6766) in conjunction with Learnplay Foundation (0121 569 2801/2802).

"Forced Marriage is Against the Law" is a short animation telling the story of Aisha. It was produced by Muslim Women's Network UK  (0800 999 5786).

What should you do if you are worried about a forced marriage?

If you or someone you know is being forced into marriage either in the UK or abroad you should contact the Forced Marriage Unit. You can contact the unit by calling 020 7008 0151 or 020 7008 1500 (out of office hours). You can also email fmu@fco.gov.uk.

In Sandwell you can contact:

  • Sandwell Women's Aid on 0121 552 6448 (24 hours)
  • Children's services on 0121 569 3100
  • Adult services on 0121 569 2266, Monday - Thursday 9am - 5.30pm and 9am to 5pm on Fridays. Outside these hours call 0121 569 2355

They understand the issues, family pressures and how difficult it is to talk about these situations. They offer confidential support and information.