A forced marriage is one that is performed without the valid consent of one or both parties involved. Marriage should be entered into freely and with the consent of both parties. Forced marriage, is against a person’s human rights and in some cases can be classed as domestic or even child abuse.
Forced marriage should not be confused with the tradition of arranged marriages. Arranged marriages are where the families of both parties take the lead in arranging a marriage but where the individuals are free to choose whether or not to accept the arrangement.
Zenab (not her real name) was 14 when she was taken on holiday by her father to Pakistan. On arrival there, her grandmother (father’s mother), took her passport and burned it. She was then introduced to a 30 year old doctor whom the family had planned for her to marry.
Zenab was sent to school in Pakistan where she felt able to talk to one of her teachers about her situation. The teacher informed the High Commission who were able to repatriate Zenab under protection to her mother, who had known nothing about the father’s plan for her to marry. Zenab’s parents are now divorced, but she remains emotionally tormented by the experience.
If you have been forced into a marriage you can seek advice and help from the Forced Marriage Unit and again you should contact the British Embassy of the country you are in. There is also a Global Response Centre which you can call on 020 7008 1500. If you are in the UK, contact the Forced Marriage Unit.
Under the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007 you can apply to the courts in England and Wales for a Forced Marriage Protection Order to prevent a forced marriage taking place or to protect you once this has happened.