The government’s decision not to make forced marriage a criminal offence has been criticised by the NSPCC, which says the practice can put children at risk of serious abuse.
Plans to introduce an offence of forcing someone into marriage were put on hold last week, amid fears it would further isolate victims.
The government said it would increase training, improve information-sharing and ensure existing legislation is fully implemented before introducing any new laws.
But NSPCC head of policy and public affairs Diana Sutton said legislation was necessary, adding: “In the longer term, many women forced in to marriage suffer domestic violence, whose impact on children is now widely documented.”
In a government consultation, 37 per cent of respondents opposed a specific offence, while 34 per cent backed one.
Respondents argued that making forced marriage a specific crime could prevent reconciliation and force the practice further underground.
- Summary of responses to Forced Marriage: A Wrong not a Right from www.fco.gov.uk