faq - matrimonio

Are you being pushed into a marriage that doesn’t fully convince you? Or even one that your parents, relatives or community are forcing on you? Do you feel as if you are not free to choose what you desire? If this is the case, you could be the victim of a forced marriage. To learn more read the following FAQ. If you need help or are aware of someone who could be involved in such a situation, you can contact the National Hotline Service 1522. It’s active every day, 24h. It’s free and anonymous, and whatever information you share will be protected. 

A forced marriage occurs when an individual weds without having freely and fully consented to the union because she/he has been coerced, threatened, or tricked. Forcing someone to marry is a heavy crime and a violation of one’s human rights. It means imposing one’s will and choice on others, going against the fundamental principles of equality and human dignity.

Art. 16 of the Declaration of Human Rights states that “a wedding can take place only with the free and full consent of the future spouses.”

Forced marriages can be imposed by someone’s parents, relatives, religious and community leaders. Coercion can be exercised under various forms: threats, physical, economic, and psychological violence. In some instances, the individuals involved can be deprived of their identification such as a passport or birth certificate. A forced marriage can be finalized via an official ceremony or through an informal act. Though informal, the marriage will be recognized as such by members of the family and community. Remember all of this is a violation of your rights. You always must have the possibility to choose. You have the right to say NO!

Forced marriages are against the law in Italy. On July 19, 2019, Law n. 69   was approved, also known as “Code Red,” whose objective is strengthening the protection of those individuals who are subjected to acts of violence, persecution, and abuse. The legislature introduced a new ad hoc offense: coercion and undue influence in marriage. 

Nota Bene: This law applies to marriages celebrated in Italy as well as abroad, that involve both Italian citizens and foreign residents in Italy.

Furthermore Dl n. 20, approved on March 10, 2023, establishes that “a residence permit will be granted to the victims of the crime of coercion or undue influence to marry.”

NOTA BENE: A forced marriage has no legal standing in Italy! Rember that if you find yourself in such a situation, you can always ask that the marriage be annulled.

The legal age to contract a marriage in Italy is 18 years of age. The term “child marriage” refers to formal or informal unions that involve individuals not yet 18 years old.

There are exceptions that allow minors to marry, but they must have the authorization of a Juvenile judge and the individuals involved must be at least 16 years old. There rules were put in place to ensure that marriage is the result of a free and legal choice. Furthermore they act to protect the rights of those underage, and allow a  for a just evaluation of each case prior to the marriage.

There are several reasons why forced marriages occur. Some parents feel pressure stemming from the expectations of family and community, others retain that forced marriages are part of their religious and cultural tradition. Other motives may include the preservation of the family’s honor or the economic situation.

NOTA BENE: None of these motives justify a forced marriage. It is always illegal and intolerable

No. No religion imposes forced marriage. Even though some people might mistakenly say that forced marriage is part of their religious tradition, it’s important to know that no religion ascribes to coercion in marriage. You can reject a forced marriage without betraying your religion. 

(See for example the Islamic Declaration of Human Rights: “No individual can be forced into marriage against her/his will.” (Art. 19a) 

Yes, Forced and arranged marriages are very different from one another. In an arranged marriage the parents or the families can suggest a potential partner, but the individual involved maintains the right to accept or refuse the proposal and marry in accordance with  her/his wishes. In a forced marriage that choice is denied, and the individual is coerced into marrying against her/his will.

No. Even though most of the victims consists of young women and girls, young men and boys can be forced to partake in a marriage. Anyone can be a victim of a forced marriage, independently of gender, sex, or sexual orientation.

If you think you are in a position of danger, or just need to talk about your situation, here are some things that you can do:


  • 1522 – Call the National Hotline Service. The call is free, safe, and anonymous. It is active Monday – Sunday, 24h. Hotline operators speak the following languages:  Italian,   English, French, Spanish, Arab, Farsi, Russian, Ukrainian, Portuguese, Albanian, and Polish. On the website www.1522.eu it’s possible to chat with a trained operator.
  • Antiviolence Centers: Need Help? Contact the center closest to you. On this page information is available in 10 languages, and there is a map of all antiviolence centers in Italy. https://www.jumamap.it/it/violenza-di-genere/
  • Talk with someone you trust such as a teacher, a social worker, or a friend.
  • Contact the Carabinieri or police if you find yourself at risk of immediate harm or are being coerced into going to a place unknown, contact 112, the national emergency number. It is free and active every day, 24h.

ARCI is a partner in  FATIMA2, a European Project whose main goal is to fight gender violence, with a particular focus on those aspects related to honor ((Honour Related Violence, HRV,) that include honor killing, forced marriages and genital mutilations. If you want further information or you would like to participate in the Project, please go to: https://www.arci.it/campagna/fatima2/