Forced Marriage & Trafficking

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Human trafficking is the trade of people by others who treat them as objects to be bought, sold or exploited for their own benefit. Coercion, fraud, threats and violence may be used to force someone into sex or labor slavery.

The Justice of the Peace Association’s journey to better understand forced marriage and human trafficking has been eye-opening. This illicit activity takes place in all of the states that JPus serves, in urban, suburban and rural communities. Affluent communities, and poor ones. At high-end hotels and resorts, and others that are – not. Marriage officiants can unwittingly be pulled into trafficking scenarios and find themselves legalizing a union where one party is coerced or otherwise an unwilling participant.

Training for Marriage Officiants

Providing the needed resources to JPs, notaries, wedding celebrants and other marriage officiants so that they are well-informed and able to recognize and respond if they encounter a trafficking situation is a priority for JPus.


JPus partners with organizations that work to increase awareness of human trafficking and forced marriage. The Tahirih Justice Center works to end violence against women and girls. They address human trafficking and forced marriage by providing legal and social services and education and training. As such, Tahirih supports JPus’ education for members in this realm.

The Backstory

During the summer 2019, a New Hampshire State Representative tweeted that she heard from a marriage officiant who said she solemnized a marriage, even though there were signs of trafficking. Not knowing what to do when faced with such a situation could be problematic for all officiants.

This began JPus’ journey to add trafficking to its advocacy and education activities. Raising awareness and providing training about trafficking to our membership must be part of our duties. We need to support our members so that if confronted with such a situation, our officiants would know what to do.

National Human Trafficking Hotline

This is a national, toll-free hotline, available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. Phone: 1-888-373-7888.

Child Marriage

There is a close correlation between forced marriage, child marriage and human trafficking.

  • JPus actively works to end child marriage. Read about our work, including partnerships, legislative advocacy and professional development for officiants.