Government wants to make forced marriages a criminal offence

Home secretary David Blunkett has branded forced marriages a
form of domestic violence that is “simply an abuse of human
rights” as the government seeks to introduce new laws to make
it a criminal offence, <b><i>writes Shirley

The proposals outlined by the Home Office and Foreign Office
will also include strengthening immigration controls by raising the
minimum age for those coming to the UK to marry from 16 to 18.

Blunkett confirmed a large number of community, faith leaders
and voluntary organisations had already expressed their concerns
about families forcing their children to marry against their will.
A full consultation process is due to take place by the end of the

A new law will also help strengthen guidelines introduced
earlier this year by the government and the Association of
Directors of Social Services to help social workers deal more
effectively with victims of forced marriages.

The government also proposes to set-up a Forced Marriage Unit to
raise awareness and encourage victims to come forward.

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