Forced marriage to become criminal offence
The government has decided to create a specific offence for forced marriages that will cover England and Wales and make it a criminal offense to force marriage upon any person.
This decision came from a twelve week consultation which listened to the views of victims, charities and organisations and in doing so realised that a combination of both education and prevention will engage communities and tackle this problem. As 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.”
The new law will also tackle the issue from the roots by helping those within the education system to notice the signs of forced marriage and advise them on the how best to handle it. There will be a nation-wide programme that will focus specifically on prevention and education, in order to make communities part of the process and solution.
Furthermore, support will be provided for victims through reinforcing existing agencies and organisations with the relevant training and rescuing those who have already become victims overseas.
This is not a new issue and the UK has been a global leader with the existing Forced Marriage Unit, which from January to May this year has provided advice or support to nearly 600 cases.