Forced marriage is a form of violence against women that entails serious violations of fundamental rights, and in particular of women’s and girls’ rights to physical integrity, physical and mental health, sexual and reproductive health, education, private life, freedom and autonomy. Men and boys who are victims of forced marriage face many similar violations of their rights. Neither culture, custom, religion, tradition nor so-called “honour” can justify such violations. The defining characteristic of forced marriage is the lack of consent of at least one of the two parties. A marriage in which (at least) one of the parties is not free to put an end to the marriage or to leave his or her spouse is also a forced marriage

Additional notes and information

Forced marriages may be a means of escaping poverty, especially following armed conflicts; they may take the form of exchange or trade-off marriages, alliances agreed between families in order to guarantee property rights or for immigration purposes, forcing a victim of rape to marry the perpetrator, levirate marriage or servile marriage (the aim of which is exploitation).


Council of Europe (2018). Parliamentary Assembly, Forced marriage in Europe. Doc. 14574