A forced marriage is where one or both people do not (or in cases of people with learning disabilities or reduced capacity, cannot) consent to the marriage as they are pressurised, or abuse is used, to force them to do so. It is recognised in the UK as a form of domestic or child abuse and a serious abuse of human rights. The pressure put on people to marry against their will may be physical, emotional and psychological.
Forcing a young person under the age of 18 to marry is a child protection issue, because it is likely to cause significant harm (domestic abuse also applies to young people from 16 years old). It impairs a young person's health and development, they lose educational opportunities, are sometimes taken overseas and it may involve underage sex or rape. Young people with disabilities or mental health problems are more vulnerable to the pressures of forced marriage. They are less likely to be able to give informed consent.
Forced marriages do not always take place abroad; there are examples of young people being forced into marriage in the UK. Victims may need help to avoid a threatened forced marriage or help to deal with the consequences of a marriage that has already taken place. Children who are born into families where marriage was forced are likely to live with domestic abuse.
SCSP fact sheets:
SCSP city-wide policy and procedure:
National guidance & resources: