Top of Page
West Midlands Police - Homepage

West Midlands Police

Preventing crime, protecting the public and helping those in need

Skip Navigation LinksHome > advice centre > campaigns > forced marriage

Advice centre

Forced marriage and disability

So what is a forced marriage?

Marriage is when two people choose to be together and have a wedding to celebrate this. They are then joined together by law. Marriage should be a happy thing.

If you have a learning disability, you have the right to get married if you want to. You also have the right to say no to marriage if it isn’t what you want to do.

Sometimes families get together and plan marriages for their children. If the man and woman want to get married this is ok. This is an arranged marriage.

A forced marriage is when someone is forced to marry someone they don’t want to. It’s a form of abuse and is not okay.

Forcing someone to get married is a crime and the person or people forcing you can go to prison for up to seven years.

It’s up to you if you get married. The law says that no one else can make this decision for you.

Who does forced marriage happen to?

Forced marriage can happen to both girls and boys, and men and women. It can happen to people of any age, disability, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.

It can happen to adults or children from any background.

People with learning disabilities are sometimes forced into marriage by their families.

Where does forced marriage happen?

Forced marriages can happen anywhere. They can happen here in the UK or abroad.

You might be told that you are going on an exciting holiday or to see relatives.

If you think someone will make you get married when you on holiday you must ask for help from the police before you go.

Is it a crime?

Yes, forced marriage is a crime and the person who is forcing you could go to jail.

People with severe learning difficulties may not have ‘capability’ to say yes to the marriage. If a person does not have ‘capability’ and someone say yes to marriage for them it is a forced marriage and is against the law.

No-one else can make the decision to get married on your behalf, even if they mean well.

How can someone force you to get married?

Your family might say it will make them unhappy or angry if you don’t get married

You might be bullied into getting married. You might feel scared to say no.

You might be told someone needs to look after you.

They might promise you nice things like a big party or a holiday if you get married.

What does marriage mean for me?

Getting married is a big decision. Will you be happy after the wedding day?

Getting married usually means having sex with your husband or wife. Are you both ready for this?

If you have sex you might then have a baby. Becoming a mum or dad is a big responsibility because a baby needs to be looked after all the time.

What should I do if I’m worried about forced marriage?

If you have been forced to get married or are worried about forced marriage then talk to someone you trust.

There are lots of people who will be able to help you. You can talk to a police officer, doctor, social worker or friend.

If you want to report a forced marriage to the police, or worry that you might be forced to get married then call 101.

Where can I get advice

There are lots of charities you can call if you want some advice about forced marriage.