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Forced Marriage

On August 25th Soroptimist in the UK are wearing orange to draw attention to the practice of Forced Marriage, which is recognised as a form of Modern – Day Slavery.

What Is Forced Marriage?

Forced marriage is when one or both people do or cannot consent to the marriage, and pressure or abuse is used to force them into marriage.

Forced marriage is illegal in the UK.

It is a form of domestic abuse and a serious abuse of an individual’s human rights.


The International Labour Organisation (ILO)estimates that 15.4 million people around the world are in situations of forced marriages and it is estimated that 84% of these are women and girls. There are three main types of forced marriage:

  • Forced marriage of adults
  • Early or child marriage
  • Trafficking for marriage

Reasons for Forced Marriage

There are many reasons for forced marriages occur,

  • payment of a bride price
  • to cancel a debt
  • to secure the residency of an individual in another country
  • or by deception.

Once the marriage is entered into the risk of further abuse, exploitation, domestic servitude and sexual exploitation increases.  All poor outcomes for the individual.

The ILO estimates 37% of those in forced marriages were children at the time of their marriage, with nearly half under the age of 15.  Marriage at such a young age, impacts on the life of a child, educationally, and socially with potential health problems due to sexual activity and early pregnancies.

Forced Marriage and Modern Day Slavery

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime estimate that victims of human trafficking are trafficked for marriage.  Women are abducted or lured by false promises into marriages abroad, or are sold by family members, often due to poverty. These women might be confined, raped, and abused until they consent to the marriage.

The link between forced marriage and modern – day slavery is clear and ending these marriages would help in the fight against both human trafficking and modern- day slavery.

Whilst we continue the fight against forced marriage, we must be clear an arranged marriage is not a forced marriage as it is an agreed arrangement between consenting adults.