Forced marriage outlawed as ministers intensify their attempts to suppress the practice

Forcing someone into marriage in England and Wales has carried, from June 16, a maximum 7 year prison sentence under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. This modification in the law was initially proposed by David Cameron in 2012, who said that forced marriage was “little more than slavery” and “abhorrent”.

The characteristics of a forced marriage is one where either one or both partners have not given their approval to the marriage but were intimidated into it, either physically, psychologically, financially, emotionally or sexually.

The government anticipates that this law change will protect thousands of possible victims. It also criminalises the forcing of a British national into marriage outside of the UK. Official data shows the scope of the problem; the Home Office Force Marriage Unit alone, in 2013, gave guidance or assistance associated to potential forced marriages to more than 1300 people. This is despite the fact that the characteristics of forced marriage means that numerous cases are probably going completely unreported. The new legislation will outlaw the practice, the Home Secretary Theresa May reports, and make sure that potential victims are protected, and that they have the basic liberty to choose who to get married to. She said she was proud of the UK’s role as a world leader in fighting this particular crime. This summer, the UK’s first summit dedicated to inspiring action against forced marriage and associated issues, will be held by the Prime Minister.

In addition, breaking a civil Forced Marriage Protection Order (FMPO) is now punishable by five years in prison. Recently, the NSPCC said the number of youngsters calling ChildLine about forced marriage was up by two thirds compared to the recent year. Some of these youngsters were as young as 12.

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