Forced marriage becomes a criminal offence today.
Under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, new provisions have been inserted into the existing Family Law Act 1996.
Section 120 makes the breach of a ‘forced marriage protection order’ a criminal offence. Such orders are issued to families suspected of planning a forced marriage. There will be a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment for anyone found guilty of such a breach.
Both the individuals concerned and concerned third parties, such as relatives, friends or police officers, can apply for forced marriage protection orders.
Section 121, meanwhile, criminalises the use of violence, threats and coercion in order to force someone into a marriage. This more serious offence will carry a maximum penalty of seven years behind bars.