Prime Minister David Cameron has said forced marriage is "little more than slavery", as plans are announced to make it a criminal offence.
It comes after warnings that up to 8,000 young women a year are forced into marriages without their consent.
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."
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:
"Forced marriage is abhorrent and is little more than slavery. To force anyone into marriage against their will is simply wrong and that is why we have taken decisive action to make it illegal.
"I have listened to concerns that criminalisation could force this most distressing issue underground.
"That is why we have a new comprehensive package to identify possible victims, support those who have suffered first hand and, indeed, prevent criminality wherever possible.
"We have spent time with those who work tirelessly to raise and address this issue and I want to send a clear and strong message: forced marriage is wrong, is illegal and will not be tolerated."