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Forced into a Marriage

Forced marriage is a form of gender-related violence and you are entitled to the same protection as any other victim of domestic violence.

In the UK

If you are being forced into a marriage in this country you can follow the advice given in the rest of this section on what to do in an emergency.

If you fear being taken abroad

If you suspect that you are being taken abroad to be forced into a marriage you can call Southall Black Sisters for advice on what to do to protect yourself or follow the advice in this section.

Under new legislation that came into force in 2007 -The Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act, it is now possible to go to court to get a protection order to prevent the person who is trying to force you into a marriage from doing so. You do not have to apply for this on your own behalf. The police or social services can apply or a relevant third party, like a trusted friend or a women’s organisation, can also get leave from the court to apply on your behalf.

If you cannot leave home or cannot avoid going abroad leave the following information and items with someone you trust and if possible an agency that could help you with returning to the UK:

  • Copies of your passport, and details page with passport number, place and date of issue and date of birth;
  • Recent photograph of yourself;
  • Parents’ names and their address and telephone number in the UK;
  • The names and addresses of relatives you are likely to be staying with abroad;
  • Date you are expected to return to the UK;
  • Your mobile phone number;
  • A letter authorising someone you trust or an organisation that can help you to contact the police and/or Foreign and Commonwealth Office on your behalf.

Before you go abroad make sure you have the following information/items with you:

  • Copies of your passport, and details page with passport number, place and date of issue and date of birth;
  • The address and telephone number of the British High Commission/ Consulate in the country you are visiting which you can find by calling the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) based at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on Telephone: 020 7008 0151 (or 0044 20 7008 0151 if you are overseas) or see the Forced Marriage Unit website;
  • If at all possible take some money with you and a mobile telephone if you have one;
  • The contact details of the person or organisation you have left your details with.

At the airport

Once at the airport if you have any opportunity to speak to any airline staff or police or security personnel, make them aware that you are being taken abroad against your will and being forced into a marriage.

Once you are outside of the UK

Once abroad you should contact the nearest High Commission or Embassy. They will try and help you to get back to the UK and can issue you with an emergency passport and provide you with safe accommodation in the country and safe transport back to the UK.

If you are approached by the local police, a local organisation or someone from the British High Commission/Consulate, it is essential that you ask them to see you alone if you can and ask them to tell you who sent them. If you feel that you can trust the official you must tell them that you are being forced into a marriage against your will and would like to return to the UK. They will try and help you to get back to the UK and can issue you with an emergency passport and provide you with safe accommodation in the country and safe transport back to the UK. You should only tell people you trust completely about your flight details when you are returning home.

Once back in the UK

You will need to find somewhere safe to stay and you may need protection against family members trying to find you. You can follow the advice in the rest of this section on protection and obtaining legal advice.

If you know someone who is about to be forced into a marriage abroad but is still in the UK

If you can contact the person you should give them the information in this section on what to do or you can advise them to call the police, the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) or Southall Black Sisters.

If you know someone who is about to be forced into a marriage abroad and has left the UK

If you don’t know where the person has been sent you can still try contacting the police but be aware that her family in the UK may alert family members abroad. If you have the contact details for the person and know where they are abroad you can contact the police and the FMU in the UK and pass on this information to them and your fears about what has happened to the person taken abroad. The FMU will contact their High Commission or Consulate abroad and try and locate the person.

For further information:

FMU, Foreign and Commonwealth Office for details of British consulates and high commissions abroad and guidance on what to do in forced marriage cases. Telephone: 020 7008 0151 (or 0044 20 7008 0151 if you are overseas) or see their website.

Reunite regarding legal advice and information on abduction of minors (under the age of 18) from the UK call 0116 255 6234 or check their website.