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.
Forced marriage can affect people in all Council of Europe
member States. All States must therefore adopt integrated policies
and take measures to prevent forced marriages, protect victims and
prosecute those responsible for these harmful practices.
States must ensure that potential victims have access to effective
prevention mechanisms, and provide comprehensive support to victims.
They should work to empower girls and women and support grassroots organisations
working to change mindsets in their communities. States must provide
strong civil law mechanisms for preventing forced marriages; they
must moreover criminalise forced marriage and prohibit all marriages
involving persons under the age of 18. If States fail to act now,
and act effectively, to put an end to forced marriage, they will
continue to be accomplices to harming generations of women and girls.