I Do Project

What is Forced Marriage?

Forced marriage is defined as the “union of two persons, at least one of whom has not given their full and free consent to the marriage.*”A forced marriage is a marriage that occurs when people are coerced into a marriage against their will and under duress, and can include both physical and emotional pressure.**


Forced Marriage vs Arranged Marriage

Arranged marriage

Many people confuse forced marriage with arranged marriage. This can be a harmful misconception, as it often leads to the misled belief that forced marriage is a practice amongst only a certain cultural and religious groups.

Arranged marriage is a legitimate way of finding a suitable marriage partner. In an arranged marriage, parents or extended family members take the lead in finding a potential marriage partner for their adult child.

The free and informed consent of both parties is present for these marriages, and they are the ones to ultimately decide WHO, WHEN and IF to marry. Arranged marriage is practiced amongst many different kinds of faiths and communities, and often result in stable, satisfying, long-term relationships.

Although some forced marriages may be arranged by family members – not all arranged marriages are forced marriages. The most important distinction between forced marriage and arranged marriage is the absence of consent.


*UN Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for Marriage and Registration of Marriage, Article 1(1), 1964

**Department of Justice Canada, Annotated Bibliography on Comparative and International Law relating to Forced Marriage, 2007