Women’s groups in Scotland have claimed that criminalisation of forced marriage in Scotland hindered rather than helped efforts to help victims.
The practice, associated with certain cultures, was outlawed north of the border in September 2014, three months after similar legislation appeared in England and Wales. Convictions have followed in England but not in Scotland, the Herald newspaper reports, and not a single individual has been charged. In addition, there has been a drop in the number of victims seeking help since the legislation was enacted – in the case of one group, from 24 referrals in a year to just ten. Victims often tell support groups that they do not wish to get their families into trouble with the police.
Scottish Women’s Aid have now called on Holyrood to reconsider its approach to the issue. Chief Executive Dr Marsha Scott said:
“Scottish Women’s Aid has from the beginning opposed the criminalisation approach in the new legislation, given our conviction that it would make disclosure and engagement with support and intervention services even less accessible and attractive for women and young people.”
“We therefore are sorry to say we told you so but are not surprised to see a decrease in reports and no prosecutions.”
Photo by roland via Flickr