Forced marriage refers to the intentional conduct of forcing an adult or child to enter into a marriage. It is a marriage lacking the personal expression of the full, informed and free consent of one or both of the parties. Such marriage includes, inter alia, child marriage; arranged marriage officiated without the consent of the interested parties; marriages contracted in order to circumvent immigration rules, i.e. without any genuine marital intent; forced marriages used by armed groups during conflict or used as a means for a girl to escape post-conflict poverty; and marriage in which one of the parties is not permitted to leave or end it. Forced marriage, in its most extreme form, can involve threatening behaviour, abduction, imprisonment, physical violence, rape and, in some cases, murder.
Forced marriage is a form of violence against women and girls and a harmful practice that often results in women and girls lacking personal and economic autonomy, in attempts to flee, or in self-immolation or suicide to avoid or escape the marriage. The Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence also criminalises the act of luring a person abroad with the intention of forcing that person against her or his will into a marriage abroad.
See also: child marriage; early marriage
(1) CEDAW and CRC Committees (2014). Joint General Recommendation/General Comment No 31 of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and No 18 of the Committee on the Rights of the Child on harmful practices. Available at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CEDAW/Pages/Recommendations.aspx; (2) Council of Europe (2011). Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence and its Explanatory Memorandum. Council of Europe Treaty Series No 210; (3) Council of Europe (2005). Forced Marriages in Council of Europe Member States: A Comparative Study of Legislation and Political Initiatives. CDEG (2005) 1.