Forced marriage law to be debated


Young women who have been pressurised into forced marriages are to be asked whether the practice should be made a specific criminal offence in the UK.
Ministers are launching a three-month consultation before deciding whether the law needs strengthening.

Currently families who compel their children to marry can be charged only with offences like assault or kidnap.

The joint Home and Foreign Office unit which helps victims has dealt with 1,000 cases over the past four years.

The police have already told the government that forced marriage should be a new, separate offence.
So how are they going to differentiate between forced and "arranged" marriages?
"Arranged" marriages should be banned fullstop. The amount of people that go missing each year due to this is to high. Women get kidnapped and locked up, some even killed. Its stupid! Ban it fullstop I say!
A distinction should be made between 'forced' and 'arranged' marriages - 'arranged' marriages, with the full consent of all parties, is perfectly acceptable. 'Forced' marriages involving kidnap, violence and black mail, is not. And it happens to men as well as women!
many young women have also been killed in "Honour killings" if they don't act like proper Muslim/Hindu women instead of dating white men, going out drinking etc

very extreme , killing your own daughter, in the Muslim religion it is actually forbidden to kill your own daughter and they can choose to refuse the partner arranged for them ,

don't know about Hindu religion tho
Still wonder why the persistence with arranged marriages, this is the 21st century after all, and we are supposed to be a liberal democracy.

I thought it was only the army that had it's head still stuck in the 19th century.

Criminalising forced marriage could deter victims from seeking help, support groups and ministers said yesterday as the government launched a consultation paper on proposed legislation.

A new law would allow families who forced their children into marriage, community members who connived in the arrangements or clerics who carried out the weddings to be jailed for up to five years.

Hundreds of young Britons are married against their will each year, often after being taken abroad by relatives on spurious grounds.

Although families can be prosecuted under other laws, such as kidnap, child cruelty and false imprisonment, the government believes a specific offence would send a message that forced marriage achieved by threats or violence is unacceptable.

"The defence of diversity is no reason to let abuse go unchallenged," said Lady Scotland, a Home Office minister. "Forced marriage is wrong and every major world religion condemns it. It is an abuse of human rights."

But she accepted it was possible people might be less likely to come forward to complain, adding: "The majority of those young people actually love their parents and want to continue the relationship."

She said the government may yet decide to concentrate on non-legislative measures. It set up a Forced Marriage Unit to tackle the problem five years ago. It has dealt with about 1,000 cases so far and rescued about 200 UK citizens who were forced into marriage.

The government recently raised the minimum age for spouses wishing to enter Britain from 16 to 18, because a third of those forced into marriage are under 18.

Lord Triesman, a Foreign Office minister, said the government was not questioning arranged marriage.

"Whether an individual chooses to find a life partner themselves or lets their family take the lead in setting up a match for them, everyone has a right to choose," he said.

The paper includes several options, which could cover conspiracy to force marriage or incitement of a forced marriage. A similar offence could cover facilitating a forced marriage and would include anyone who conducted a ceremony knowing that the bride or groom was an unwilling participant. Forced marriages which occurred overseas could also be covered.

It warns there is a risk that families may take their children abroad at an earlier age to avoid an increased risk of prosecution in Britain.

About 15% of the cases involved male victims, and although many originated in south Asia others were from east Africa, the Middle East and eastern Europe

"I would guess the unit, like us, only gets a very small percentage of the actual problem," said Shanaz Akhtar of the Council of British Pakistanis.

Ms Akhtar, co-manager of the Doli Project to combat forced marriage, said: "A lot of the cases we deal with are from traditional backgrounds where family honour is paramount. Our users are concerned about that and the thought of putting mum and dad behind bars would not be something they were willing to do. But I think if it was a criminal offence it would take only a couple of prosecutions to ... get the message across."

Jasvinder Sanghera, who fled home when her parents tried to force her into marriage and subsequently founded a women's project, agreed, saying: "If they [young people] knew it was against the law it might encourage them to come forward."

At present only Norway has a specific offence of forcing someone into marriage, which has resulted in a single prosecution.

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