About Forced Marriage

About Forced Marriage

  • Marriage is seen by many families as a way of establishing and confirming their status in the communities to which they belong or wish to belong.
  • Many communities promote endogamy: a practice of marrying within their ethnic, religious, caste, or economic class. Many forced marriage cases happen when an offspring refuses to marry the partner chosen for him or her by the family.
  • In the tragic cases that have resulted in the death of the person who refused to be forced into a marriage, research reveals, that parents have acted (a) because they think they have the right to force their offspring into marriage, and (b) also because they are concerned that they will lose face in their community if their son or daughter does not marry a person who is chosen for them.

  • The tragic deaths of Banaz Mahmod and Shafilea Ahmed show that families are willing to kill their children who refuse a forced marriage in the UK. Samia Shahid was taken to Pakistan where she was killed.

  • There is no harm with parents choosing a marriage partner for their son or daughter, as some do in an arranged marriage. Nevertheless, if a parent or a guardian exerts pressure, coercive control, or forces a son, daughter, or any other person into a marriage against his or her will – in the UK - they are breaking the law, and they can end up in jail.
  • The Commission’s research reveals that across the length and breadth of the UK, forced marriage happens in all communities, regardless of social class, race, ethnicity, and religion. Forced marriage even happens in the context of families that consider themselves ‘to the manor born’, and among so-called educated families. Nevertheless, the thinking that parents and elders have the right to choose a marriage partner for their son or daughter is more prevalent in some communities more than others.
  • Invariably, when forced marriage comes under discussion, the first reaction of the majority of people living in the UK is, ‘It doesn’t happen here,’ or ‘it happens in some communities from particular religious or ethnic backgrounds.’
  • The Commission's research revealed:

  • Forced marriage happens across all communities from different ethnic, religious, cultural, caste, and class backgrounds.
  • Forced marriage happens among the educated and the uneducated.
    • Men and women, girls and boys, and transgender adults and children are forced into marriage in the UK.
    • in the UK, the age of consent (when a person can 'yes' to marriage) is 18. Nevertheless, there is a loophole in the law (click here to read more), and a child below the age of 18, but older than 16, can be given away in marriage by a parent or a guardian.
    • Many rights groups and voluntary sector organisations argue that It is not possible for a child to give informed consent, or say 'yes' to a marriage.
    • A child can have no understanding of the physical relationship with a spouse, or of the responsibility of childbearing or parenting.
    • There are campaigns to stop the marriage of children aged 16-18 such as Girls Not Brides and IKWRO
    • Many persons who are forced into a marriage do not know that the law in the UK provides remedies that can protect them from being forced into a marriage.
    • This page discusses forced marriage and the law in the UK.
    • In some cases, a forced marriage happens in a transnational context. There are cases when a British citizen is taken abroad to get married or a person from another country is brought into the UK to get married - often by force.
    • We have consulted lawyers and experts to discuss the laws in some other countries. Their opinions are being uploaded here