A forced marriage is a marriage in which one or both people do not freely agree (consent) to the marriage and where some form of pressure (coercion) is involved.
This pressure can take many forms and can be physical, emotional, psychological and financial. It can include deception, threats, blackmail or harassment.
There is often huge pressure to conform to the wishes of family and community. The pressure which forces a person into marriage does not have to be directed against that person and can include circumstances in which threats are made to the person or others if they do not agree to the marriage.
A forced marriage can also occur where an individual is not able to freely agree on their own behalf, for example, children or adults with a mental disorder.
A forced marriage is not the same as an arranged marriage. In an arranged marriage, both parties consent to the marriage.
What are my legal options?
In Scotland, the law offers both civil and criminal protections from forced marriage. For more information on your rights and protections, as well as where you can seek support, see our Factsheet.
Looking for more information on forced marriage?
Other support and organisations that can help
Many support services are available to you whether or not you report to the police.
Amina Muslim Women’s Resource Centre
The Helpline is a listening ear and signposting service for Muslim women across Scotland. It is free from mobiles and landlines and will not appear on your phone bill. All calls are strictly confidential and non-judgemental; Amina will always deal with clients in a faith and culturally-sensitive manner.
Amina can help women in English, Urdu, Arabic, Bangla and Swahili and, when required, using online interpreting.
- Phone number: 0808 801 0301 (Monday to Friday from 10am – 4pm)
Hemat Gryffe Women's Aid provide specialist support to women from the Asian, Black and Minority ethnic community who experience domestic abuse influenced by culture and tradition.
- Phone number: 0141 353 0859
Saheliya is a specialist mental health and well-being support organisation for black, minority ethnic, asylum seeker, refugee and migrant women and girls (12+) in the Edinburgh and Glasgow area.
- Phone number: 0131 556 9302
Shakti Women's Aid
Shakti Women’s Aid helps BME women, children and young people experiencing, or who have experienced, domestic abuse from a partner, ex-partner and/or other members of the household.
- Phone number: 0131 475 2399
Scotland’s Domestic Abuse & Forced Marriage Helpline
Scotland’s Domestic Abuse & Forced Marriage Helpline is available 24/7 offering support and advice to anyone affected by domestic abuse or forced marriage. For information on your local Women’s Aid group or on refuge accommodation please visit Scottish Women’s Aid.
- Phone number: 0800 027 1234
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Webchat is available 24/7 on their website.
In immediate danger or looking to report?
If you feel you are in immediate danger, call the Police on 999. If you are not in immediate danger but would like to report, call the Police on 101. Alternatively, you can fill out Police Scotland’s online form. Police Scotland respond and investigate reports of criminal activity, this includes various forms of gender-based violence.