DC: forced marriage to become a criminal offence

David Cameron announced today that coercing someone into marriage will become a specific criminal offence in England and Wales.

The decision to create a specific offence of forced marriage follows a 12 week consultation which took views from the public, victims, charities and frontline agencies. It is possible to make an argument that in many cases forced marriage would have broken existing laws, but the new legislation will remove any doubt and send a clear signal.

The new law will be accompanied by a range of measures to increase protection and support for victims and a continuing focus on prevention. More than half a million pounds worth of funding, delivered over the next three years, will help deliver measures including:
  • Helping those working in education to spot the earliest signs of forced marriage and what action to take
  • Helping victims receive the right support in a joined-up way by expanding the current training for relevant professional agencies
  • Making the breach of a Forced Marriage Protection Order a criminal offence
  • Raising awareness of the risk of forced marriage abroad through a major summer campaign, highlighting the right to choose and the help available
  • Rescuing those who have already become victims overseas and putting in place a comprehensive support package for victims who have been repatriated
  • Engaging communities through a nation-wide programme focussed on prevention and education
The UK is already a global leader on work to tackle forced marriage. The unique cross-departmental Forced Marriage Unit runs a helpline providing confidential support and advice to victims and professionals, and conducts a nation-wide outreach programme in schools and statutory agencies across the country. This year alone (January to May 2012), the Forced Marriage Unit has provided advice or support to nearly 600 cases.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

"To force anyone into marriage against their will is simply wrong and that is why we have taken decisive action to make it illegal.

"I have listened to concerns that criminalisation could force this most distressing issue underground. That is why we have a new comprehensive package to identify possible victims, support those who have suffered first hand and prevent criminality wherever possible.

"We have spent time with those who work tirelessly to raise and address this issue and I want to send a clear and strong message: forced marriage is wrong, is illegal and will not be tolerated."

Home Secretary Theresa May added:

"Forced marriage is an appalling practice and by criminalising it we are sending a strong message that it will not be tolerated. But we know that legislation alone is not enough and we will continue to work across government and with frontline agencies and organisations to support and protect victims."


Jim said…
Not really an issue that I know much about. First to admit that. I do find the whole thing wrong and I actually agree with DC on this.

Though I would imagine, and I may be wrong, that it's most commonly found in families from an Islamic background. Not a dig at Islam, or any other religion, just it would add up.

The thing is are people who are entering forced marriage being found? I mean there must be a lot of people, in particular, I guess, women from Islamic families. But are they afraid to mention it, fear of the family, fear of family rejection, even fear of god.

They must be hard to find, as I cant imagine a queue forming outside the police station if you get my drift.

How would you find the worst offenders? to offer help to the victim, you need to find them first, and unless they come forward it will be difficult.

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