Netherlands Worldwide

What to do if you are being forced to marry or have been abandoned in a foreign country

If you are being forced to marry abroad or if you have been abandoned abroad, the steps you need to take depend on where you are.

I am still in the Netherlands

You may be worried that you will have to get married or engaged against your will during a holiday or family visit abroad. Or worried that you will be abandoned in a foreign country. Ask for help and try to stay in the Netherlands. In an emergency, call 112.

(information in Dutch)

If you think you will not be able to stay in the Netherlands, try to take the following steps. This will make it easier for you to get back to the Netherlands:

  • Before you leave the Netherlands find a recent passport photo and make a photocopy of your passport. Write down your address, your citizen service number (BSN) and any other important information.
  • Write a message explaining your situation. You can email all this information to someone you trust before you leave.
  • Ask someone you trust for help (for example your family doctor, a teacher or friend). Or contact the National Expertise Centre on Forced Marriage and Abandonment (LKHA) and/or the Veilig Thuis domestic violence advice and reporting centre.
  • Download the Dutch government’s Travel App (Reisapp) (information in Dutch). This app contains the contact details of all Dutch embassies and consulates. These details are also available offline.

I am abroad

If you have been abandoned abroad, or are being forced to marry abroad, try to stay calm. Don’t let anyone see that you are trying to get help. This may put you in a dangerous position.

Try to do the following:

  • First call the Dutch embassy or consulate on +31 247 247 247. Or send an email. Call at a time when it is safe for you to talk and no one is listening.
  • You can also ask for help via WhatsApp. Add the mobile phone number of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (+31 6 8238 7796) to your contacts on your smartphone and send us a message. We aim to respond within 30 minutes. Please note: you cannot call or text (SMS) us on this number.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs helps Dutch nationals who have been forced to marry or stay abroad against their will and want to return to the Netherlands. The Ministry works together with the National Expertise Centre on Forced Marriage and Abandonment (LKHA). The embassy or consulate can, for example, help find temporary safe accommodation or issue travel documents.

Help for someone else

If you know someone who is being forced to marry or who has been abandoned abroad, contact the National Expertise Centre on Forced Marriage and Abandonment (LKHA) on +31 (0)70 345 4319 or at LKHA@veiligthuishaaglanden.nl. You can also contact the LKHA for advice. You can do this anonymously if you wish.

What is forced marriage?

Not everyone is free to choose their own partner. Parents or other family members may look for a candidate and force you to marry that person. Sometimes this is just with words, but it can also involve threats, blackmail and violence. This is called forced marriage.

What is abandonment?

Suppose you go abroad for a holiday or family visit and your family will not let you return to the Netherlands. Or you are put on a plane to a foreign country and have to break all contact with people in the Netherlands. Your parents, husband or other family members think it is better for you to stay in the foreign country under family supervision or at a strict boarding school. You are put under severe pressure to cooperate. Your passport, residence permit, phone and bank card are taken away. This is known as abandonment.