A forced marriage is where one or both parties are forced or pressured to enter a marriage against their will. Families may threaten physical violence and/or the victim may be held hostage by their parents. If you are saying yes to marriage after having been emotionally blackmailed, for example, if your family has said that refusing would bring shame to the family or destroy family ties, then you have been coerced into a marriage against your will. This is a forced marriage because you do not truly want to get married and are agreeing for the sake of others.
Forced marriage is illegal in the UK. Parents who force their children to marry can expect to face imprisonment for a maximum of seven years. If you are in a forced marriage it can be invalidated. Whether you are a British citizen or not, help is available.
Families sometimes accuse the victim of going against their religion. This is not true: no faith advocates forced marriages. To find out what Islam says about forced marriage, click here.
A forced marriage is not the same as an arranged marriage. In an arranged marriage, families play a leading role in finding the partner, but both parties are free to refuse the proposal. Arranged marriages are legal in the UK.