Know what to do in case of forced marriage or risk of forced marriage

If you are threatened with forced civil, religious or traditional marriage, you can benefit from protective measures ordered by a French judge. If you flee a forced marriage from another country, you can apply for the international protection of France, also known as the right of asylum.

Verified by Fédération GAMS on 30/05/2022

Know the facts

A forced marriage is a civil, religious or traditional marriage with a person you have not chosen and which is imposed on you without your consent.

Forced marriage is prohibited by law in France. You are free to marry but also to refuse marriage.

Marriage requires mutual consent between the future spouses. This means that:

  • You are free to express your refusal during the proceedings to the administrative body that holds civil marriage ceremonies, known as the “mairie” or town hall.
  • You can do this both before and during the wedding ceremony.
  • In the absence of consent, marriage is considered null and void according to French law. Applicable law: Article 180 of the Civil Code.

Protective measures

  • If you are over 18 years of age and you are threatened with forced marriage, you can apply for a protective measure called an “ordonnance de protection” from the French legal system, even if you do not have residency rights.

    This measure shall be urgently issued within one week.

    It will allow you to obtain protection ordered by the family court judge called the “juge aux affaires familiales (JAF)” for a renewable period of six months, which can, for example:

    • prohibit the person you are intended to be married to from meeting you
    • prohibit the person you are intended to be married to from carrying a weapon
    • allow you to conceal the address of your home
    • at your request, temporarily prohibit you from leaving French territory.

    You may also request a document authorising you to remain in France, known as a residence permit or “titre de séjour”. This procedure is explained in detail on this page.

  • If you are under 18 years of age, you cannot benefit from this protection measure as your protection will depend on the children’s court.

    You can talk to a trusted person close to you about your concerns, such as a professional like a doctor or teacher.

    You can also call the national child protection hotline on 119. This free number is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but only available in French. They will be able to advise you and make a report to a public prosecutor known as the “procureur de la République”.

Residency rights

If you are fleeing a forced marriage from another country, you can apply for the international protection of France, known as the right of asylum.

You can find more information on this page.

Find support

In France, there are many services that can support you, give you advice, and assist you with procedures and paperwork. Most of them are free of charge.

  • This telephone counselling service is intended for people facing all types of violence and those who support them.

    • This service is free of charge.
    • On the telephone, a trained counsellor will listen to you and support you. They can then direct you to relevant services near you.
    • Available languages: French. Sometimes the following languages are available: English, Arabic, Spanish, Turkish, Mandarin, Chinese, Kurdish, Azeri, Polish, Hebrew, Farsi, Soninké, Creole, Kinyarwanda, Kirundi and Swahili. At present, these languages are unfortunately available at irregular and unscheduled times.
    • Contact: call 3919, available 24/7. The call will not appear on your telephone bill.
    • For people who are deaf, have difficulties hearing, people with aphasia or who have language impairments, you can access a service adapted for your needs by clicking on the telephone icon at the bottom right of the website
  • Fédération GAMS” supports people subjected to female gential mutilation or forced marriage.

    • This service is free of charge.
    • They will assess your situation, and then direct you to relevant services near you.
    • Languages available: French, English and Bambara.
    • Contact: by telephone on 01 43 48 10 87 Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. or by e-mail at [email protected].
  • The “Centres d'Information sur les Droits des Femmes et des Familles (CIDFF)” helps the general public, especially women, in many areas such as: legal rights, health, employment searches, training, business creation, and even childcare.

    • These services are free of charge.
    • They will be able to inform you of your rights and the steps to take. Some centres can assist you with procedures and paperwork.
    • Languages available: mainly French.
    • Contact: you will find the contact details of the “CIDFF” in your area in this directory.

While the utmost care has gone into providing you with the most accurate and up to date information, this page is not intended to replace legal or professional advice. Laws and procedures change regularly so it is important to consult qualified professionals.

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