New law against forced marriage takes effect

 

Forced marriage is “a tragedy for each and every victim”, the Home Secretary, Theresa May, said as a new law outlawing the practice came into effect.

From today, forcing someone into marriage will carry a maximum seven-year jail term under the 2014 Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act.

The Government hopes the law change, with also criminalises forcing a British national into marriage outside the UK, will protect thousands of potential victims.

Mrs May said she was "proud" of the UK's role as a "world leader" in combating the crime, saying: "Forced marriage is a tragedy for each and every victim, and its very nature means that many cases go unreported.

"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 Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) working hard to tackle this terrible practice in the UK and overseas.

"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.

"This summer, the Prime Minister will also be hosting the UK's first summit dedicated to galvanising action against forced marriage and related issues."

The Home Secretary has joined anti-child marriage charity Freedom, police, the Crown Prosecution Service and a victim of the practice in a new online video for the £Freedom2Choose campaign, explaining why forced marriage has been criminalised.

The change in law was originally announced in 2012 by David Cameron who said forced marriage was "abhorrent" and "little more than slavery".

A forced marriage is described as one in which one or both spouses do not consent to the marriage but are coerced into it by physical, psychological, financial, sexual or emotional pressure.

The Home office said the FMU gave advice or support related to a possible forced marriage to more than 1,300 people in 2013.

As well as outlawing the practice, breaching a civil Forced Marriage Protection Order (FMPO) will be punishable by five years in prison.

Freedom founder Aneeta Prem welcomed the new legislation.

She said: "In the most tragic cases, people forced into marriage become domestic slaves by day and sexual slaves by night.

"Today's announcement sends out a powerful message that this indefensible abuse of human rights will be not be tolerated.

"Everyone should have the freedom to choose."

Earlier this week the NSPCC said children as young as 12 were calling ChildLine about forced marriage, with the number contacting them up two-thirds in the last year.

Dr Ash Chand, the charity's strategy head for minority ethnic children today described the law change as "a huge step forward which we hope will deter those plotting against their own children".

He said: "Many young people who call our ChildLine service about this issue are frightened, concerned and feel control of their lives is being wrenched from them.

"We have produced an animation that will help allay their fears and encourage them to contact us for help and advice."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Ashdown Group: Automated Tester / Test Analyst - .Net / SQL - Cheshire

£32000 per annum + pension, healthcare & 23 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A gro...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot