The Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007 together with Part IVA of the Family Law Act 1996 authorises the civil court to make an Order to protect a person from being forced in to marriage, and affords a way out for those who have been forced.

In addition to this the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 made compelling a person into marriage against their will either through coercion, psychological, emotional, financial, or sexual abuse, violence or threats a criminal offence. This extends also to those who use deception causing a person to leave the UK for the purpose of forcing the victim in to marriage. A person found guilty can receive a sentence of up to 7 years imprisonment. This Act extends to the prosecution of those individuals living overseas who have been instrumental in the forced marriage, and gives the police jurisdiction to return a victim who is a British National back to the UK.

The protection is there, the problem now is getting those who have been forced or believe they are going to be forced to come forward. Forced Marriage is a crime which is often unreported due to the perpetrators usually being the victims’ family. Family honour and fear of being ostracised by the community frequently prevents those from reporting it.

New measures have been announced by the Home Secretary Sajid Javid to combat forced marriage.  As part of these new measures a public consultation will be launched to determine whether there should be a mandatory requirement for professionals to report their suspicions of forced marriage. The consultation will help identify:-

  • Which professionals the duty would apply to

  • The specific circumstances where a case would have to be reported

  • Potential sanctions for failure to comply with the duty

  • Potential explicit reference to forced marriage within UK immigration rules to demonstrate that forced marriage is unacceptable in the UK, this can include refusal of spousal entry visas to the UK where there are signs a marriage has been forced.

This is a positive step to remove the sole responsibility of reporting the crime from the victim. Jasvinder Sanghera, the founder of Karma Nirvana, a charity which supports victims of honour-based abuse has stated that the responsibility should also extent to communities to help agencies, especially the police in reporting any suspicions of force marriage which can be done as a third party anonymously.

Farleys can assist, if you yourself feel pressured in to marriage or you are worried about a child or an adult who may be forced. Contact us immediately for an urgent confidential appointment. Our specialist team understand the unique, particularly sensitive and difficult circumstances. Contact us on 0845 287 0939 or submit your enquiry online today.

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