Freedom believes we all should be entitled to choose who we wish to marry. This is a basic human right and, in the UK, appropriate measures are in place to ensure the safety and protection of its most vulnerable citizens.

Freedom celebrates the UK’s cultural diversity and all the traditions that these bring but it makes a clear distinction between an arranged marriage and a forced marriage.

An arranged marriage is one which has been intermediated by a third party but crucially both individuals have a choice. If at first the match doesn’t succeed, it is up to the arranger to find other potentially suitable matches. In time a match will be found and both individuals and their families can be confident that, by having a free choice, the couple will have every chance to be happy together.

Freedom charity were instrumental in making forced marriage a crime covered by the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. Forcing someone to marry can result in a sentence of up to seven years in prison.

Visit the government’s Forced Marriage page here where you can also download a Forced Marriage Protection Order HERE

Zara’s story

I was only 14 when my parents tried to send me away to be forced into a marriage. I was terrified; I didn’t want to leave my life in England, my friends, my family. Why did they want me to marry a man I’d never met? It didn’t make any sense, I felt scared and alone.

Freedom Charity rescued Zara who would have been subjected to daily rape and abuse.

Please support Freedom by purchasing our books ‘But it’s not fair’. All profits go towards helping support our cause.
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If you are worried about a friend who is exhibiting any of the above signs and fear that they may be forced into a marriage, tell your teacher or school mentor. You can say that you wish to remain anonymous. Tell your teacher that there are specialist police officers who can help and there is a Forced Marriage Unit at the Foreign Office.

Many Forced Marriages take place in the school/college holidays. It is often very difficult for a young person to take steps to avoid going on holiday even though they are afraid that something will happen. This may be because they do not feel strong enough to take steps to protect themselves or they do not want to believe their family could do such a thing.

If a friend tells you that they think they may be forced into a marriage when they go abroad on holiday, make sure they take these vital steps which could make all the difference:

What your donation can provide


could help us raise awareness in schools and prevent FGM


could provide a counselling session for a victim of abuse


could provide a new identity for a victim fleeing abuse


could provide support for a girl fleeing abuse for a month.