In November 2008, the Government brought into force the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007. The Act gave Family Courts in England and Wales the power to prevent forced marriages occurring. One criticism of the new law, however, was that forced marriage was not actually made a criminal offence.
Whist the Law does allow for people who force others into marriage to be sent to Prison for up to two years, since the Law came into effect, only one person has been jailed for breaching an order.
However, it seems that MP’s are now calling for forced marriages to be made a criminal offence in order to send a clear message that it will not be tolerated in society.
Since the introduction of the Forced Marriage Act, the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) gave advice and support to a possible 1,735 instances of forced marriages in 2010 alone. As family law solicitors dealing in the area of forced marriages, we have dealt with a number of Forced Marriage Applications at Blackburn County Court hence the Law is certainly being accessed by those in need.
Victims who are faced with a forced marriage are also often subjected to threats, violence and abuse on both physical and emotional levels.
Unfortunately, this time of year sees an increase in the risk of forced marriages occurring given the school and college holidays is predominately when most young people are approached about the topic of marriage or taken out of the country to effect a forced marriage.
The Government now seems to want to take a tougher stance and be seen to be protecting victims of forced marriage. This is sending a clear message that those people who act to force or participate in forcing a person to enter into a marriage against their will, is committing a criminal act and will be punished.
If you are facing a forced marriage, or are worried about the issue, please do not hesitate to contact one of our solicitors for forced marriage legal advice.