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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree were established in 1986....

Recruitment Genius: SAGE Bookkeeper & PA to Directors

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map