British govt ready to act against forced marriages
By Asif Mehmood
LONDON: Parents who force their children to marry will face jail in Britain under tough new laws being drawn up by ministers.
British Prime Minister David Cameron is set to act to halt the misery inflicted on upto 8,000 young British women every year, making it a crime to push a son or daughter into wedlock without their full consent.
He has ordered the UK Home Office lawyers to create a new offence to be unveiled within weeks. Cameron was spurred into action by Conservatives Co-Chairwoman Sayeeda Warsi, who convinced ministers that the practice rife in parts of the Asian community was a “modern form of slavery”.
The Muslim member House of Lords accused the government of pussyfooting for too long on forced marriages, often used as an immigration scam.
Baroness Warsi said, “There is often no relationship and they live as strangers in the same home. Forced marriage is akin to slavery and it is going on in Britain today. But it is time to draw a line in the sand and say enough. This is not acceptable.” The Conservatives co-chairwoman spoke out after winning a battle with cabinet doubters opposed to changing the law. The Home Office lawyers are now working on the fine print of wide-ranging new legislation to crack down on forced marriages.
A team of academics and religious experts signed up as advisers will have its first meeting this week. The new law could require all people marrying abroad to declare their intent first with their local registrar in Britain. All religious ceremonies would be void unless they were also entered in the civil register. This would make it harder for parents to lure their daughters abroad and blackmail them into marriage. Downing Street said, “This is an issue close to the prime minister’s heart and he is determined to act.”