Forced marriage refers to situations where a person has been forced to marry without giving their consent. A forced marriage might occur under physical, emotional, or financial duress as a result of deception by family members, the spouse, or others, or by the use of force or threats or severe pressure. These marriages are prohibited by several international conventions, including those that prohibit slavery and slavery-like practices, including servile marriage.
Other forms of exploitation can also occur within the context of a forced marriage, such as human trafficking and forced labour. Importantly, the practice of arranged marriage is present in many cultures and is distinguished from forced marriage by the presence of consent of both parties to the marriage. However, where consent is present, coercion can still manifest in various forms, including exchange or trade-off marriages, servile marriages, and levirate marriages.
As set out in the joint general recommendation of the UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), child marriage – where at least one of the parties is under 18 years of age – is considered a form of forced marriage, given that one and/or both parties cannot express full, free, and informed consent due to their age.17 However, in many countries 16 and 17-year-olds who wish to marry are legally able to do so following a judicial ruling or parental consent. For the current estimates, the measurement of forced marriage is limited to marriages of both adults and children that respondents to the survey reported
as having been forced and without consent. As a result, the estimates do not include every instance
of child marriage, as child marriage is not currently measured adequately at the scale or specificity required for a global estimate. Further, while an individual can experience forced labour and also be forced to marry, for the purpose of presenting a fuller picture of each of these human rights violations, forced labour and forced marriage are calculated and presented separately.
from “Global Estimates of Modern Slavery
Forced Labour and Forced Marriage”
© International Labour Organization (ILO), Walk Free, and International
Organization for Migration (IOM) 2022