Skip to content

Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Image: ComeIlMare via Creative Commons

Britain to make forced marriage a criminal offence

David Cameron described the practice as being “little short of slavery”.
Jun 8th 2012, 7:28 PM 3,694 16

BRITAIN’S GOVERNMENT announced plans today to make forced marriage a criminal offence, with parents who coerce their children into marrying to face “very tough punishments”.

Prime Minister David Cameron said forced marriage had been tolerated as a cultural practice in Britain’s Asian community for too long and was “little short of slavery”.

“For too long in this country we have thought ‘well, it’s a cultural practice and we just have to run with it’,” he said. “We don’t. It’s a crime.”

“You are taking 15, 16-year-old British citizens, taking them off to another country against their will, marrying them with someone against their will.”

“It is an absolutely abhorrent practice,” he added. “It is, frankly, little short of slavery.”

“If you commit that sort of offence you’ll get a very, very tough punishment.”

The government’s Forced Marriage Unit said 46 per cent of the nearly 600 cases of forced marriage it dealt with between January and May this year involved Pakistani nationals.

Some 45 per cent of the victims were younger than 18, the agency said, and 87 per cent of the victims were female.

Forcing someone into a marriage will become a criminal offence in England and Wales, with the maximum sentence to be set out in a new law.

The legislation will distinguish between forced marriage and arranged marriage, in which both bride and groom cpnsent to the union.

Making a difference

A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article.

Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can make sure we can keep reliable, meaningful news open to everyone regardless of their ability to pay.

Scotland passed a similar law in November introducing a maximum two-year jail sentence for forced marriage.

Campaigners have warned that criminalising the practice could discourage victims from coming forward because they do not want their relatives to face jail.

In response to these concerns, the government has announced extra funding of £500,000 (€619,000) to help identify and support victims.

- (c) AFP, 2012

David Cameron to address Leveson inquiry next week >

Send a tip to the author



    Back to top