The 10-Year Anniversary of the Law Criminalising Forced Marriage in the UK

The 10-Year Anniversary of the Law Criminalising Forced Marriage in the UK

16th June 2024 – Today, Freedom Charity proudly marks the 10-year anniversary of the landmark legislation that made Forced Marriage a criminal offence in the United Kingdom. This monumental change in the law has been pivotal in protecting countless individuals from the horrors of Forced Marriage, ensuring their right to choose their life partners freely and without coercion. 

Reflecting on the achievements of the past decade, Aneeta Prem MBE, founder of Freedom Charity, states:

“When Freedom Charity was founded, we set out with a clear and unwavering mission: to protect the most vulnerable among us by making Forced Marriage a criminal offence in the United Kingdom. This profound change, achieved 10 years ago today, has had a lasting impact, standing as a powerful deterrent to those who would seek to coerce others into marriage. But the law alone is not enough. Education remains our most effective tool: by teaching the next generation about the devastating consequences of Forced Marriage, we can prevent domestic abuse, rape, and even murder.

I am incredibly proud of what Freedom Charity has accomplished over the last 10 years. We have distributed over 70,000 copies of our book, But It’s Not Fair, and other educational resources to school children across the UK, saving lives and offering hope.

As we commemorate this milestone, we also honour the memory of those who did not survive Forced Marriage, those taken abroad and never returned. Their lives are not forgotten. Every book we distribute, and every lesson we teach, brings hope and encouragement to the next generation. Together, we can ensure that everyone has the freedom to choose their own future.”

The Importance of the Law Change

Forced Marriage is a violation of human rights and a form of modern-day slavery. The criminalisation of this abhorrent practice has provided law enforcement and support agencies with the necessary tools to protect vulnerable individuals, particularly young people and those with disabilities. One significant aspect of this law change was the inclusion of capacity in legal terms, ensuring that individuals must have the mental capacity to consent to marriage. This provision has been crucial in safeguarding young people with disabilities and older individuals who might be coerced into marriage.

Achievements and Continuing Relevance

Over the past decade, there have been numerous prosecutions for Forced Marriage in the UK. The law has undeniably empowered victims and provided them with legal recourse.

In recent years, significant progress has been made, including the raising of the legal age of consent for marriage to 18, further protecting vulnerable minors. Freedom Charity’s efforts have ensured that Forced Marriage is not only a criminal offence but also a key topic within the national educational framework, creating a ripple effect that educates and safeguards future generations.


As we mark this significant milestone, Freedom Charity reaffirms its dedication to combating Forced Marriage and supporting victims. The 10-year anniversary of the law change is not just a moment to reflect on past successes but a call to action for continued vigilance and advocacy. Together, we can ensure that everyone has the #Freedom2Choose their future, free from coercion and fear.

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About Freedom Charity

Freedom Charity is dedicated to empowering young people and protecting them from forced marriage, dishonour-based abuse, and female genital mutilation (FGM). Through education, advocacy, and support services, Freedom Charity strives to create a society where everyone can live with dignity and freedom.