Forced marriage is a form of domestic abuse, an abuse of human rights and, where it affects children and young people, child abuse. It can happen to both men and women although most cases involve younger women and girls aged between 13 and 30.
However, there is no "typical" victim of forced marriage. Some are under 16 years old, although many are older. Some victims have a disability, some have young children and some are spouses from overseas.
The majority of cases of forced marriage reported to date in the UK involve South Asian families. This is partly a reflection of the fact that there is a large, established South Asian population in the UK.
However, it is clear that forced marriage is not solely a South Asian problem and there have been cases involving families from East Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa. Some forced marriages take place in the UK with no overseas element, while others involve a prospective partner coming from overseas or a British citizen being sent abroad.
There is a clear difference between a forced marriage and an arranged marriage. In arranged marriages, the families of both spouses take a leading role in arranging the marriage but the choice whether or not to accept the arrangement remains with the prospective spouses.
In forced marriage, one or both spouses do not (or, in the case of some adults at risk, cannot) consent to the marriage and some element of duress is involved. Duress can include physical, psychological, sexual and emotional pressure.
The main support organisations in Scotland for female victims, who make up 85% of all cases, are Shakti Women's Aid in Edinburgh and Hemat Gryffe Women's Aid in Glasgow.
No-one should ever be emotionally or physically forced into marrying someone they do not want to. If you are worried that this might be happening to you or someone you know, support is available. For advice, visit *** yourrightscotland.org *** or call the free 24-hour helpline on 0800 027 1234. Remember that this is not your fault and you are not alone. Do not be afraid to speak out.