Forced marriages ‘a form of violence’

Home secretary David Blunkett has branded forced marriages a “form
of domestic violence that is simply an abuse of human

His remarks came as the government was preparing to introduce laws
to make such marriages a criminal offence.

The proposals will also include strengthening immigration controls
by raising the minimum age for those moving to the UK to marry from
16 to 18.

Blunkett confirmed that many community, faith leaders and voluntary
organisations had already expressed their concerns about families
forcing their children to marry against their will.

A full consultation is due to take place by the end of the

A new law will also help to strengthen guidelines introduced 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.

Jasvinder Sanghera, Asian affairs manager at domestic violence
charity Refuge, said: “Strong measures will give a serious message
to perpetrators that forced marriage is a crime.”

The government also proposes to set up a forced marriage unit to
raise awareness and encourage victims to come forward.

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