'Just one person jailed': Govt told to outlaw forced marriages

Forced marriages are commn in many communities in the UK
Forced marriages are commn in many communities in the UK

By Ian Dunt

The government is facing demands to fully criminalise forced marriages after a Common committee found just one person had been jailed under current rules.

The home affairs committee offered a devastating account of failed government initiatives to prevent the practise, saying that specialist services were particularly vulnerable to spending cuts and citing a distinct lack of legal action.

"I am very disappointed that progress on protection and awareness remains slow," chairman Keith Vaz said.

"We believe that the best way to deter people from forcing individuals into marriage is through criminalising forced marriage.

"There should be zero tolerance of this harmful activity that ruins the lives of so many."

While there has been a relatively high take-up of the new forced marriage protection orders, with 293 issued between November 2008 and February 2011, MPs expressed disappointment at a lack of follow-up, suggesting the government was failing to ensure compliance.

Where breaches were discovered - a "rare event" according to the committee - they found that not enough action had been taken, with just one person jailed.

A judge can order a forced marriage protection orders if they believe someone is at risk of being forced into a marriage. It constitutes a legally binding agreement with a potential jail sentence of two years for anyone who contravenes it.


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