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Forced Marriage

What is forced marriage?

Hands in chains

"Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouse"

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 16

A forced Marriage is a marriage in which one or both parties do not (or, in the case of some adults with learning or physical disabilities, cannot) consent to the marriage and duress is involved. Duress includes both physical and emotional pressure. It is very different from arranged marriage, where both parties give their full and free consent to the marriage.

The Scottish Government believes that all people in Scotland who are eligible to marry or enter into a civil partnership have a right to do so freely and without coercion.


The Forced Marriage etc. (Protection and Jurisdiction) (Scotland) Act was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 22 March 2011 to provide a specific civil remedy for those threatened with forced marriage and those already in such a marriage. The Act recieved Royal Assent on 27 April 2011 and came into force on 28 November 2011.

Click here to go to the 2011 act.


New legislation

From 30 September 2014, forcing someone into marriage was made a criminal offence in Scotland.

Forced marriage was made a criminal offence in England and Wales on 16 June 2014, under the same Act.

Click here to go to the 2014 Act


Info Zone

Publications & Resources
Forced Marriage Network
Implementation of the Act