Forced Marriage Law in Disarray

Daily Mail (London), September 6, 2005 | Go to article overview

Forced Marriage Law in Disarray


Byline: JAMES SLACK

LABOUR yesterday paved the way for an embarrassing U-turn on its plans to outlaw forced marriages - by admitting they could be seen as an attack on ethnic minorities.

Ministers unveiled their intention to crack down on the immigration scam - then revealed the proposed new criminal offence may not even make it on to the statute book.

Home Office Minister Baroness Scotland outlined only five reasons why it was a good idea - compared with ten arguments against the change.

She added: 'We will not introduce a new offence unless we are sure that it is the right way forward and that any risks can be properly and effectively managed.' The majority of forced marriage cases - where youngsters are sent overseas to wed a man they have never even met - involve girls from Pakistan, Bangladesh and India.

Following the ceremony, their new husband is able to cite the marriage as a reason for being allowed to move to the UK.

The Government wants to make forced marriage a crime punishable by a fine, community penalty or jail.

But a consultation document warned the new offence would 'disproportionately impact on black and minority ethnic communities and might be misinterpreted as an attack on those communities'. …

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