Ireland to outlaw forced marriage

Family Law|January 21st 2016

The Republic of Ireland is set to introduce a new law which criminalises forced marriage.

New legislation proposed by the Department of Justice would make “intentional conduct of luring an adult or a child . . . with the purpose of forcing [them] to enter into a marriage” an indictable offense. There is currently no specific prohibition against the practice in Irish law.

The new law is expected to be enacted by the end of next year, the Irish Times reports. It will come as part of a new government strategy to deal with sexual, domestic and gender-based violence.

Other proposed policies include the abolition of exemptions for underage marriages. Currently, people under the age of 18 can marry in Ireland with a ‘Court Exemption Order’. To get one, the couple must demonstrate that their marriage is in their best interests. The Department of Justice hopes that eliminating these orders will also reduce the number of forced marriages.

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said these proposed actions would fight against the “pernicious evils” in Irish society. The government’s response to such violence “has to continue to improve”, she said, adding that “it’s not going to happen overnight, but I am confident that it’s going in the right direction”.

Forced marriage was criminalised in England and Wales back in June 2014 as part of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act. Anyone who compels another person into a marriage against their will can face up to seven years in prison if they are found guilty.

Last year, Birmingham charity the Muslim Women’s Network UK asserted that forced marriage remained “a huge problem” especially in Islamic communities.

Photo of Dublin by Paolo Trabattoni via Flickr

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