British Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that forcing someone to marry against their will could be seen as a criminal offence in the country in the future.
Cameron announced he was making it a criminal offence to breach an order issued by the courts to prevent a forced marriage, adding that he has asked Home Secretary Theresa May to consult on whether the practice should be made an offence in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, The Mirror reports.
AdvertisementThe cross-party Commons Home Affairs Committee called earlier this year for forced marriage to be criminalised, but its recommendation was rejected by the Home Office in July for fear that it would discourage victims from coming forward.
However, Cameron announced he was asking May to rethink the decision.
"Forced marriage is little more than slavery. To force someone into marriage is completely wrong. And I strongly believe this is a problem we should not shy away from addressing. But I know that there is a worry that criminalisation could make it less likely that those at risk will come forward," Cameron said.
"So, as a first step, I am announcing today that we will criminalise the breach of Forced Marriage Prevention Orders. It's ridiculous that an Order made to stop a forced marriage isn't enforced with the full rigour of the criminal law."
"And I am also asking the Home Secretary to consult on making forcing someone to marry an offence in its own right, working closely with those who provide support to women forced into marriage to make sure that such a step would not prevent or hinder them from reporting what has happened to them," he added.