A law that protects victims and potential victims of forced marriage will come into effect next autumn, Justice Minister Bridget Prentice said on Tuesday.
The new law will enable courts to make orders to prevent forced marriages and to order the behavior or conduct of those responsible for forcing another into marriage to change or stop or to impose requirements on them. It also provides recourse for those already forced into marriage. Failure to comply could lead to imprisonment.
The Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007 gives the courts a wide discretion to deal flexibly and sensitively with the circumstances of each individual case. It employs civil remedies that offer protection to victims without criminalizing members of their family.
The first phase of implementation of the Act will enable people to apply for an order at specified county courts, rather than just the high courts.