The U.S. Department of State's highest priority overseas is the protection and welfare of U.S. citizens. A forced marriage is a marriage without the consent of one or both parties. Duress, often by family members, is a factor. An arranged marriage, common in many cultures, is not the same as a forced marriage because the bride and groom agree that they want to be married. In a forced marriage, family members may threaten the forced marriage victim, physically abuse him or her, or even threaten them with death. Forced marriage cases do not just affect female victims; there is evidence to suggest that 15 percent of the cases involve male victims. In some instances, forced marriage can take the place of a dowry as there can be immigration benefits to a foreign national when marrying a U.S. citizen. The U.S. government considers forced marriage to be a human rights abuse and in the case of minors, a form of child abuse. International law recognizes the right of men and women of marriageable age to marry, and states that “no marriage shall be entered into without the free and full consent of the intending spouses.”
Forced marriage is an under-reported problem in certain regions of the world. The Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs has compiled information for those countries that have reported cases where U.S. citizens have faced forced marriage. Information available varies by country, but may include discussion of the legalities of marriage, cultural context, and resources available to prevent forced marriage. Please consult the “Special Circumstances” section of our Country Specific Information for your country of destination.
If you or someone you know is facing or has been a victim of forced
marriage overseas, please contact the Office of Overseas Citizens
Services at 1-888-407-4747 (from overseas: 202-501-4444) or the U.S.
Embassy or Consulate nearest you. Please refer to our Country Specific
Information or this list of embassy and consulate locations and for
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