UK: Law and forced marriage

A police officer in Britain speaks up against the lack of special laws dealing with forced marriage. The headline of this article "Despair as forced marriages stay legal" - is very misleading.

Forced marriages are not legal in the UK. They can be combated using current legal means - there are laws against rape, laws against assault, laws against abduction etc.

I do not think there has to be a law against forced marriages specifically, just as I do not think stigmatizing a community should be an issue here. I do think the claim that if there's no such law then forced marriages are legal is completely off the mark and worse than that, focuses on a trivial aspect of the issue.

If every case of forced marriage would be treated like rape within the family. If anyone who forces a marriage on anybody else, or who takes part in such would be treated as a criminal or accessory to rape and abduction. If the partner in question would be locked up for 20-30 years.

Then there would be no need for specific laws and yet everybody would understand that such a thing is illegal.

To take an example - rape by a husband used to be non-punishable in Britain. And yet now it isn't and everybody knows it's illegal, and not because there's a special law against it.

A clear signal should be sent. That signal is putting criminals in jail. Not making the legal system more complicated.

THE lives of young women might be ruined by the Government’s failure to make forced marriages illegal, a senior police officer has warned.

Commander Steve Allen of the Metropolitan Police said that a decision by ministers last month to drop proposed legislation had been greeted by some ethnic minorities as a signal that forced marriage was acceptable.

Between 2003 and 2005, 518 forced marriages were recorded in London, and in 2005 more than 140 in Bradford. Campaigners say those are merely the tip of the iceberg.

Most cases in Britain involve Muslim families, although the practice is not restricted to any particular religious or ethnic group. Most victims are aged between 16 and 20 and many suffer physical assault, death threats and false imprisonment, usually at the hands of close family members.

Suicide rates among young Asian [ed. Muslim] women are more than three times the national average and about 12 women every year die as a result of so-called “honour killings”.

Source: Times Online (English)

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