Local MP launches forced marriage now a crime

Local Lib Dem MP and Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker has launched a new law which will help protect thousands of potential victims by making it a criminal offence to force someone to marry against their will .

New legislation came into force on Monday designed to help people in England and Wales. It also applies to UK nationals overseas who are at risk of becoming the victim of a forced marriage.

Forced marriage can involve physical, psychological, emotional, financial and sexual abuse including being held unlawfully captive, assaulted and raped.

In 2013, the government’s Forced Marriage Unit gave advice or support related to a possible forced marriage to more than 1300 people.

The maximum penalty for the new offence of forced marriage is seven years imprisonment.

Law enforcement agencies will also be able to pursue perpetrators in other countries where a UK national is involved under new powers defined in legislation.

It will still be possible for victims to seek enforcement for breach of a forced marriage protection order by way of the civil court’s contempt powers as an alternative to reporting the breach to the police.

Norman says: Marriage should be about two people deciding they want to live together because they love each other. To force someone in to marriage to a person they don’t want to be with against their will is a corruption of marriage. Moreover it is in effect a life sentence for the person forced to marry, who at worst will then become a domestic servant by day and a sex slave by night. Forced marriage has no place in a civilised society and no cultural explanations can justify its use. I am therefore delighted to launch this new law on behalf of the coalition government”.