What is Forced Marriage?

"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 received Royal Assent on 27 April 2011 and came into force on 28 November 2011.


A Law relating to forced marriages in Scotland came into effect in November 2011
New legislation came into effect last November which makes it a criminal offence to breach a protection order.

Offenders could face a two-year prison sentence or a fine if convicted.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said that ‘’forced marriages had no place in 21st Century Scotland" and the legislation was designed to make sure those affected received the "help and support they need".

Ms Sturgeon continued to say : "All people in Scotland who are eligible to marry or enter into a civil partnership should have the right to do so freely without coercion.

"Scotland is leading the way in this legislation in ensuring that anyone who breaches a protection order - and anyone aiding or abetting them will feel the full force of the law."

The Forced Marriage (Protection and Jurisdiction) Act was the first legislation in the UK to make it an offence to breach a protection order.

Since it came into effect in November 2011 until Dec 2012 73 people have been assisted by the Scottish domestic abuse & forced marriage helpline - significantly more than before the new law was introduced.

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