In July 2019, Princess Haya of Jordan, the estranged sixth wife of Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, appeared in a London court to file for a forced marriage protection order for one of her minor children. This surprise legal move made headlines around the world, raising the visibility of an often overlooked human rights violation.

Forced marriage is a marriage that takes place without the consent of one or both parties as the result of fraud, coercion, duress or other malfeasance. Under some interpretations, forced marriage refers to any marriage of a person below the age of legal consent (aka “child marriage”). Forced marriage also encompasses marriages in which a spouse is blocked from pursuing separation or divorce. An unfortunate and common thread in forced marriage is physical, emotional and sexual abuse, and marital rape.

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