Victims of forced marriage will receive lifelong anonymity under new legislation.
From the time someone makes an allegation of forced marriage, certain information about the victim will be banned from publication. This includes their name, photographs of them or any other details which could be used to identify them.
This will apply to all forms of media including newspapers, TV and radio. However, traditional media outlets will not be the only ones affected by the new measure as social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook will also fall under its remit.
The new rule has been introduced as an amendment to the Policing and Crime Bill currently making its way through the House of Commons. In addition to the anonymity measure, the new legislation will also criminalise any breaches of forced marriage protection orders. These are put in place when a court is convinced that someone is in danger of being taken out of the country to be married against their will.
Minister for Preventing Abuse, Exploitation and Crime Karen Bradley called forced marriage “an abhorrent practice that can destroy lives”. It can be extremely daunting for victims to speak out, “especially as it is often committed by the very people they love and trust”. A guarantee of lifelong anonymity “will give more victims the confidence to come forward and seek justice”, the MP claimed.
The new anonymity measure has been modelled on similar legislation introduced last year, the Guardian reports. This was put in place to prevent the identification of female genital mutilation victims.
Forced marriage was only criminalised in England and Wales in June 2014. Since then, anyone found guilty of the crime faces a maximum of seven years in prison.