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Talking about forced marriage: a toolkit for young people

When it comes to forced marriage, we know that greater awareness has the power to change lives.

When it comes to forced marriage, we know that greater awareness has the power to change lives.

This Toolkit will help you to learn about forced marriage, and your rights around marriage. It will walk you through supporting someone who might be at risk. Lastly, it will show you how you can start conversations and advocate for change, in a way that works for you.

It’s estimated that there are thousands of people living in forced marriages in Australia today.

Most of these people are never identified, which means that they may be left alone in navigating what can be a very challenging and scary situation. We know that young women and girls are most at risk – between 2021 and 2022, 51% of reported Australian forced marriages involved people under the age of 18. No matter your age, the impacts can be devastating.

Illustration depicting family and community pressures to marry

What can we do about it?

To prevent forced marriages from happening, people need to know that this is a problem in Australia – and most importantly, that support is available. We need to ensure that everyone knows their rights and options, and that they don’t have to go through this alone.
To make this happen, we need your help. We need to start talking about forced marriage.


What is forced marriage?

Forced marriage happens when you’re made to marry someone without freely consenting – meaning that it doesn’t feel like your choice, and you really don’t want to.

Being forced into marriage can mean experiencing pressure from others, being threatened, or even being tricked into agreeing. All of this is against the law.

Learn more about forced marriage.

Get free help for yourself or a friend.


What are the barriers?

Many people don’t believe being pressured into an unwanted marriage can happen today, or that it could happen in Australia. This is one of the greatest obstacles to ending forced marriage, and to helping people: if we don’t know what it is, how can we identify that it’s happening to us, our friends or to our loved ones? How can we get help? And how can we support the thousands of people impacted?

Learn about the common questions, worries and barriers faced by people seeking support.


What are the impacts?

Being pressured into an unwanted marriage can have enormous negative impacts on people’s lives, health, freedom and opportunities. Facing this situation alone can be an extremely isolating experience, and someone impacted may feel many conflicting feelings. They may feel ashamed or guilty (although they have nothing to be ashamed of). They might be scared that, if they say no, they’ll lose their family or be rejected from their community.

Learn more about the impacts of forced marriage.

Explore our Toolkit, and find out how you can make a difference.

Section One: How to support a friend

Section Two: The facts and the myths

Section Three: Engaging with your community

Section Four: Responding to prejudice and racism

Examples of awareness-raising

Human Rights Calendar