Parents who force their children into marriage face jail
Parents who coerce their children to marry will face jail under moves to be set out tomorrow by David Cameron.
The Prime Minister will announce that forced marriage will be made a criminal offence following reports that up to 8,000 Britons are made to marry against their consent every year. He has previously described the practice – which can include kidnapping, beatings and rape – as "little more than slavery" and "completely wrong".
Most cases of forced marriage involve families from southern Asia, including Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Among them are hundreds of girls below the age of 16 who are taken abroad to be coerced into marriage.
The Government's forced-marriage unit – which dealt with 1,500 cases last year – has revealed that a five-year-old girl was one of 400 children it helped. One in five victims was male.
The Government is already committed to criminalising breaches of forced-marriage protection orders, which are criminal injunctions and carry jail terms of up to two years for contempt of court. But ministers have decided to go further and draw up a new criminal offence for England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The offence will carry a prison sentence, but the maximum term has not yet been decided.
During consultation on the move, concerns were expressed that criminalising forced marriage altogether could deter victims from coming forward to police.
In October, Mr Cameron announced the consultation in which Theresa May, the Home Secretary, was asked to consult on the criminalisation move and investigate ways to "make sure that such a step would not prevent or hinder [victims] from reporting what has happened to them".
The Prime Minister added that people should not "shy away" from tackling the subject because of "cultural concerns". Tory sources have accused previous Labour governments of ducking the issue.
France, Germany, Belgium, Norway and Denmark have all now introduced specific laws making forced marriage a criminal offence.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
- 2 Loom bands: Bids for dress made from colourful rubber pass £170,000 on eBay
- 3 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 4 L'Oreal cuts ties with Belgium supporter Axelle Despiegelaere after hunting trip photographs
- 5 The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week
Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
Loom bands: Bids for dress made from colourful rubber pass £170,000 on eBay
Supermoon 2014: When and why will the moon look bigger and brighter this summer?
Tommy Ramone dies: Last surviving founder and drummer seminal punk band The Ramones dies aged 62
Gaza-Israel conflict: The terrible price Palestinian children are paying for Israel’s war with Hamas
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...
£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...
£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...
£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...