This new law makes it a criminal offence to force someone to marry. Historically in the UK, the courts dealt with forced marriages via the civil law route (non-criminal) by employing Forced Marriage Protection Orders (Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007).
The law outlines (below) specific provisions governing forced marriages:
Section 121(1) of Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act states a person commits an offence if he or she:
'(a) uses violence, threats or any other form of coercion for the purpose of causing another person to enter into a marriage, and
(b) believes, or ought reasonably to believe, that the conduct may cause the other person to enter into the marriage without the free and full consent.'
Section 121(3), a person commits an offence if he or she:
'(a) practises any form of deception with the intention of causing another person to leave the United Kingdom, and
(b) intends the other person to be subjected to conduct outside the United Kingdom that is an offence under subsection (1) or would be an offence under that subsection if the victim were in England or Wales.'
- Forced Marriage offences are stated under s.121 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime & Policing Act.
- Taking someone overseas to force them to marry irrespective of whether a marriage takes place or not is an offence.
- The civil remedy of the Forced Marriage Protection Order(s) through the family courts will continue to exist with the new criminal law Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime & Policing Act.
- Both parties must have the mental capacity to consent to the marriage. Any conduct employed to induce the marriage in these circumstances will be deemed a criminal offence regardless of whether perpetrators use violence, coercion and/or threats.
- Victims may choose to follow the civil or criminal route or both.
- Breaching the Forced Marriage Protection Orders (civil law) is a criminal offence and can carry up a sentence of up to 5 years in prison.
- Forcing someone to marry can carry a sentence of up to 7 years in prison (if indicted).
Articles on forced marriage:
- Forced marriage: How hundreds of terrified British victims of the tradition are being failed every year by the services they need most by Emily Dugan in The Independent
- Forced marriage is still a big problem in the UK. What more can we do? by Emily Bates in the Guardian
- Schoolgirls need protection from forced marriage, Ofsted warned by Maggie Brown in the Guardian
- Forced marriage in the UK: hidden from view by JAN Trust
- Forced marriages blight lives, but criminalising them would not work by Aisha Gill and Khatun Sapnara in the Guardian
- UK forced marriage victims much younger than previously thought by Nina Lakhani in The Independent
- Forced Marriage and Refugee Status by Asylum Aid
- Survivor’s handbook by the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU)
- Guidance for teachers and professionals by the Department of Education
- 'The Right to Choose: Multi-agency statutory guidance for dealing with forced marriage' by the Government
Films and documentaries on forced marriage:
Reports on forced marriage:
- CONSENT MATTERS – Towards effective prevention of forced marriages within the Pakistani community in the UK by JAN Trust
- A choice by right
- Forced Marriage and Mental Health
- Forced marriage: the risk factors and the effect of raising the minimum age for a sponsor, and of leave to enter the UK as a spouse or fiancé(e)
- Forced marriages, family cohesion and community engagement: national learning through a case study in Luton.
- UK initiatives on forced marriage: regulation, dialogue and exit.