A new law makes forced marriage a criminal offence for the first time today with offenders facing up to seven years in prison. Victims of forced marriage will now have the right to have their case heard in court under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

The video features contributions from Home Secretary, Theresa May, the Freedom Charity, the Forced Marriage Unit and senior police officers on why it matters that forced marriage has become a criminal offence.

‘In the most tragic cases, people forced into marriage become domestic slaves by day and sexual slaves by night. Today’s announcement sends out a powerful message that this indefensible abuse of human rights will be not be tolerated.’
Aneeta Prem, Freedom Charity

You can see an interview with Aneeta Prem on the Justice Gap HERE.

‘Forced marriage is a fundamental breach of human rights that robs people of the opportunity to choose their own future.  Today’s criminalisation is a further move by this government to ensure victims are protected by the law and that they have the confidence, safety and the freedom to choose.’
Theresa May, Home Secretary

The new law criminalises the use of deception to make a person leave the UK with the intention of forcing them to marry and the breach of a Forced Marriage Protection Order (FMPO). Last year, the Forced Marriage Unit helped in more than 1300 cases, both in the UK and abroad, giving people advice and support relating to a possible Forced Marriage.

Next month the Prime Minister will be hosting the UK’s first global summit dedicated to galvanising action against forced marriage and related issues.

‘Forced marriage is an appalling form of abuse which crosses borders and cultural boundaries. The scale of reported cases is deeply worrying, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. The message from the coalition government is clear – forced marriage is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated.’
Norman Baker, crime prevention minister

To coincide with the new law on forced marriage Freedom Charity has launched a #Freedom2Choose social media campaign to raise awareness.

Author: Christina Michaels

Justice Gap reporter and journalism student at the University of Winchester

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