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Advice and Counselling Service

Forced marriage

What is forced marriage?

Forced marriage is defined as a marriage contracted without the free and valid consent of one or both parties. It is different to an arranged marriage where there is free and valid consent from both parties. The pressure put on people to marry against their will can be physical (including threats, actual physical violence and sexual violence) or emotional and psychological (for example, when someone is made to feel like they’re bringing shame on their family). Financial abuse (e.g. withholding money) can also be a factor.

Specialist help is available to support you to make your own decision about what you want to do, and to help you understand how you can access housing and money if you do choose to move away from your family.

Queen Mary's Report and Support webpages provide more information about forced marriage, including details of specialist external organisations who can help.

You can use Report and Support to do any or all of the following:

  • Let the University know about your experience (and help inform future prevention work).
  • Request suppport from the Advice and Counselling Service. 
  • Request formal action (such as a Univeristy investigation).

 Alternatively, you can contact the Advice and Counselling Service directly for advice and support to help you decide what course of action you may want to take.

Support from the Advice and Counselling Service

You can contact us to arrange to see a Counsellor, to get support with the difficult emotions you may be experiencing as a result of the fear of being forced into a marriage, or of already being in a forced marriage. Having the space to think about your feelings in a confidential setting can help you to decide what action you want to take (if any), and can help you to feel emotionally supported in your choice.

You can contact us to arrange to see a Welfare Adviser, who can offer you advice and guidance with practical issues. It is important to understand that Welfare Advisers will always work from your point of view; they will not impose any decisions on you. The adviser will help you to understand what options are available, and then if you decide to take action, they will offer you advice and support to help you achieve this. If you decide to move away from your family, we can help you to plan how to do this safely, to find alternative accommodation, and to access financial support. If your situation is adversely affecting your studies, we can advise you about academic options such as submitting a claim for Extenuating Circumstances if you have been unable to attend exams, or taking time out of your studies. If you also want to get help from an external agency, a Welfare Adviser can help you to contact them, and if you wish, can work together with you and the external agency to help you move away from the forced marriage, or the threat of forced marriage.

Please be reassured that the Advice and Counselling Service is confidential. This means that the fact that you have attended appointments at the Advice and Counselling Service, and anything discussed during appointments, will not normally be passed to anyone outside the Service without your permission. You can read our Confidentiality policy here.

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