- 11 updates
Andrew Flanagan, chief executive of children's charity NSPCC, has said the change would need to be monitored to ensure the problem was not pushed further underground:
David Cameron has said parents who force their children into an unwanted marriage will face "very tough punishments" under a new law.
The Government is making forced marriage a criminal offence, with Mr Cameron claiming the practice was "little short of slavery".
He said victims' lives were ruined by being taken away from the UK, often at a young age, and coerced into a marriage.
The Prime Minister said the issue had been tolerated as a "cultural practice" for too long and the time was right to take action.
After visiting the cross-departmental Forced Marriage Unit Mr Cameron said: "It is necessary to make this a crime because it is an absolutely abhorrent practice. It is, frankly, little short of slavery."
The Home Secretary, Theresa May has revealed victims of forced marriage will be able to decide if their parents are prosecuted and jailed.
Writing in The Sun she said the Government's concern "will always be for victims", as plans are today set to be confirmed to make forced marriage illegal.
Currently the only power victims have is to persuade judges to pass protection orders to stop harassment. Under new plans, breaching the injunctions will also be made a criminal offence.
Mrs May said: “I know this is a sensitive issue. Ultimately, our concern will always be for victims; they should be able to choose the path that is right for them, be it a criminal or civil route.”
Equalities minister Lynne Featherstone has told Daybreak that forced marriage is "totally unacceptable", as plans are announced to make it a criminal offence.
The Liberal Democrat said: "We had an extensive consultation, we've listened to the views and we've decided to criminalise forced marriage.
"It is very, very important that we as a country send out a very firm message that this is totally unacceptable, abuse and against the law."
Andrew Flanagan, chief executive of children's charity NSPCC, said the change would need to be monitored to ensure the problem was not pushed further underground.
The Government has released statistics that showed the cross-departmental Forced Marriages Unit had been involved in almost 594 cases from January to May this year.
Some 45% involved victims under the age of 18, 87% of all cases involved a female victim and 46% had Pakistan as the country of origin.
- London had 20.9% of cases
- West Midlands 16.7%
- South East 10.4%
- Yorkshire & Humberside 5.3%
- North West 5.1%
- South West 2.6%
- East Midlands 2.2%
- Scotland 1.9%
- Wales 1.4%
- North East 1.4
- East of England 1.2%
- Northern Ireland 0.2%.
Campaigners have warned that criminalising forced marriage altogether could deter victims from coming forward but the Prime Minister said an extra £500,000 of funding would help identify and support those affected.
Mr Cameron said:
David Cameron has said that forced marriage is "little more than slavery".
The Government has announced plans to make forced marriage a criminal offence.
Parents who force their children into a marriage will face jail in what Mr Cameron said was a "clear and strong message" that the practice would not be tolerated.