Will Come in to Force on June 16
After years of protesting, charities have expressed their delight after the government confirmed that forced marriages are to become illegal. Under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, which will come in to force on June 16, it will become a criminal offence to breach a forced marriage protection order, doing so carries a maximum sentence of seven years’ imprisonment.
The government has defined the crime as when “one or both people do not (or in cases of people with learning disabilities, cannot) consent to the marriage and pressure or abuse is used. It is an appalling and indefensible practice and is recognised in the UK as a form of violence against women and men, domestic, child abuse and a serious abuse of human rights. The pressure put on people to marry against their will can be physical (including threats, actual physical violence and sexual violence) or emotional and psychological (for example, when someone is made to feel like they are bringing shame on their family). Financial abuse (taking your wages or not giving you any money) can also be a factor.”
Talking to The Asian Today, Government Advisor on honour based crime, Mandy Sanghera said, “I hope the law act’s as a deterrent. The problem is a lot of people are not going to want to report their parents. I work with a lot of disabled people. They are not going to even know they are being forced into marriage or even report their parents. They won’t even have the capacity or the concept to say that they are being forced into a marriage. I hope the legislation will allow more professionals to intervene at earlier stages.
Honour based violence charity, Karma Nirvana, have been running roadshows across the UK with the aim being to help both the public and professionals to increase and understand the risk a forced marriage has on a victim. A spokesperson from Karma Nirvana said, “Forced Marriage becomes a criminal offence for the first time in England & Wales which means for the first time a victim can call it a crime in its own right. This is historical and means that those convicted can be sentenced for up to 7 years and the breech of forced marriage protection orders will become a criminal offence.
“Our Roadshows will raise awareness about the new law and what public bodies need to be considering this is in the back drop of the Chief Inspector of Police forces-Tom Winsor announcing that FM/HBV is going to be inspected this year.”
Foreign Office Minister Mark Simmonds and Home Office Minister of State for Crime Prevention Norman Baker said, “Forcing a woman or girl into marriage is a serious abuse of human rights and robs her of the right to choose her own future. The UK leads the world in tackling early and forced marriage, and that is why we are taking decisive action to criminalise it. We are delighted that the Forced Marriage Unit and Karma Nirvana are working together to deliver these essential roadshows.
“It is crucial that professionals understand the new legislation to help them protect and empower victims of forced marriage and those at risk.”