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What is Forced Marriage


What is a Forced marriage?

A marriage is forced when one or both people do not, or cannot, consent to the marriage.  This is not the same as an arranged marriage where families take a leading role in choosing a partner for their son or daughter. In these instances, the choice of whether or not to marry that person remains with the individuals involved. Arranged marriages are a part of everyday life in Scotland for many communities.

There is no ‘typical’ victim of forced marriage – men, women and children of many ages and backgrounds have all been affected by this unacceptable practice. And they continue to be. In some cases, lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people may be forced to marry to protect family ‘honour’, or families might force a disabled person to marry without them being able to give their consent, in order to provide them with a long-term carer.

However, no matter the situation, if anyone uses either emotional or physical pressure to force you into marriage, this is an abuse of your basic rights and it is wrong.

If the threat or the reality of a forced marriage is causing emotional or physical distress to you or somebody you know, help is at hand.

This might feel like a big step but it’s your first step on the road to a happier future.

Please don’t be afraid to speak out and get help.

Advice, support and protection are available in complete confidence.

Forced Marriage helpline: 0800 027 1234 (Lines are open 24 hours and calls are free.)

Men's advice line ( 0808 801 0327 (Lines are open Monday – Friday (9am-5pm).

Calls are free from landlines and from mobiles using the O2, Orange, T Mobile, Three (3), Virgin, and Vodafone networks)  

Copies of information leaflets providing information about Forced Marriage can be obtained from Bruce Sutherland (

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Case Study:  C was always able and keen at school but, when she was 15, turning 16, her behaviour and attitude changed and deteriorated further as the summer holidays approached.  She missed several exams and at the start of the autumn term she did not turn up at school at all.  One of her friends told her guidance teacher that she feared a possible forced marriage, and that C had been left overseas by her family.  The school contacted the police and social work who also contacted the Forced Marriage Unit. C was finally located and repatriated to the UK.  She had to re-sit her exams the following year but is doing well


What is Forced Marriage

Your Rights

Taking the Next Step

You are not alone

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)  

Forced Marriage Learning Resource