A report today by MPs from the Home Affairs Select Committee says forced marriages must be criminalised.
A bit of background is important here. Its not like forced marriages are legal right now: its just that law-enforcers focuse on stopping forced marriages by using existing legislation against coercion, kidnapping etc to stop a forced marriage.
Some Asian women groups have been against a law specifically criminalising forced marriages in the past because of fears that it might drive the practice even more undergound. I’ve never really understood that argument.
A few years ago the Forced Marriage Bill was quietly passed but it seems to have made little impact, partly because the bill had no teeth. I wrote about it then for CIF.
Now MPs including Keith Vaz say its time to go further. I’m not a fan of Vaz but I’m inclined to agree. The law is a blunt instrument but the UK needs to take a big symbolic (and legal) step forward and take action on forced marriages. It might even force countries like India and Pakistan to take it more seriously.
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Filed in: 'Honour'-based violence,Culture