PM: Forced marriage is abhorrent

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.

NSPCC chief executive welcomes law on forced marriages

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:

It's welcome that the Government is focusing attention on this major issue in child protection and it's right that we are not afraid to tackle this problem head on.

The NSPCC has always had concerns that a specific criminal law may risk making this abuse harder to uncover because victims could be afraid of criminalising their family if they speak out.

So it's positive that the Government has listened and is looking at wider measures to support young people and ensure they will not be deterred from seeking help.

PM warns of 'very tough punishments' for forced marriages

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."

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Shadow equalities minister: forced marriage should never be tolerated

Forced marriage should never be tolerated - it is a terrible violation and can destroy people's lives.

The law should be strengthened to build on the work done to stop forced marriage.

The Government needs to work with experts to get the detail right and also to make sure that cuts to refuges or legal aid don't undermine the support victims need in practice.

– Kate Green, shadow equalities minister

Home Secretary: more powers for forced marriage victims

Theresa May has declared forced marriage victims will be able to decide if their parents are prosecuted and jailed.
Theresa May has declared forced marriage victims will be able to decide if their parents are prosecuted and jailed. Credit: Tim Ireland/PA Wire/Press Association Images

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: 'forced marriage is totally unacceptable'

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."

NSPCC: 'Forced marriage is ruining young lives right here in the UK'

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.

He said:

"Forced marriage is ruining young lives right here in the UK.

"Very young girls and boys are being coerced or even forced through violence and intimidation to marry spouses sometimes twice their age. This is child abuse plain and simple.

"It's welcome that the Government is focusing attention on this major issue in child protection and it's right that we are not afraid to tackle this problem head on.

"The NSPCC has always had concerns that a specific criminal law may risk making this abuse harder to uncover because victims could be afraid of criminalising their family if they speak out.

– Andrew Flanagan, chief executive of children's charity NSPCC

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Government releases statistics on forced marriages

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%.

Cameron: 'Forced marriage is wrong, is illegal and will not be tolerated'

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."

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