Britain bans forced marriage

The law also makes it a criminal offence to force a British national into a marriage abroad.


Afp June 16, 2014
The law also makes it a criminal offence to force a British national into a marriage abroad. PHOTO: FILE

LONDON: British legislation banning forced marriage came into effect on Monday, with those found guilty of the largely hidden practice facing up to seven years in prison.

The law applies not only within Britain but also makes it a criminal offence to force a British national into a marriage abroad, as many youngsters are flown out to weddings in their ancestral homelands, particularly in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.

Nearly two-thirds of the cases dealt with by the government's Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) relate to Britain's South Asian communities.

Campaigners welcomed the new laws as a "huge step forward", while the government hopes they will protect potential victims.

A practice wrecking the lives of unknown thousands of British-born youths, forced marriage has been increasingly exposed in the last decade.

"Forced marriage is a tragedy for each and every victim, and its very nature means that many cases go unreported," said Home Secretary Theresa May.

"I am proud to say that the UK is already a world leader in the fight to stamp out this harmful practice with the government's FMU working hard to tackle this terrible practice in the UK and overseas,” she continued.

"Today's criminalisation is a further move by this government to ensure victims are protected by the law and that they have the confidence, safety and the freedom to choose."

Last year, the FMU dealt with some 1,300 cases, 18% of them men.

Forty per cent of victims were aged 17 or under; three quarters were aged under 22.

Officials fear the number of victims coming forward is just the tip of the iceberg.

Meanwhile charities say few leaders with influence in their communities are prepared to take a stand, for fear of losing their support base.

The cases related to 74 different countries, although 43% were linked to Pakistan, 11% to India and 10% to Bangladesh.

Other countries with multiple cases included Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran and Tunisia.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children said children as young as 12 had contacted them about forced marriage, with the numbers calling up two-thirds in the last year.

COMMENTS (12)

think critically | 7 years ago | Reply

Western societies are more tolerent to to her faiths and people are allowed to freely practice their faith. They are just secular and don't want anyone to impose their beliefs on anyone else. Perhaps that is confused as intolerance sometimes. By exams you can see how minorities have been forced too flee Pakistan due to the injustices done to them. And if western societies are so intolerant of Islam why are so many young muslims from Pakistan migrating there? As for forced marriages, it really isn't an argument that its evil to do this and the reasons behind it should be investigated and addressed whether cultural, social or religious. Just to say that its not permitted in religion doesn't mean ppl are not misusing religion to do this. So without finding the cause it is premature to assume motives. .

Ivory Trinkets | 7 years ago | Reply

@Shock and Horror: Even in the recent Indian case in the UK, the family were Muslims. I guess, Muslims with children will now shun the UK.

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