British Ministry Announces Forced Marriage Act is in Effect
Tuesday, December 9, 2008 4:35 PM

In a recent press release, Britain’s Ministry of Justice announced that the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act of 2007 (HTML or PDF, 21 pages) came into effect on 25 November 2008. That day is also White Ribbon Day for the campaign for domestic violence prevention in the United Kingdom. The Act is currently in effect in Britain, Wales and Northern Ireland. Scotland is also considering it. The law employs civil penalties, but also criminalizes some offenses with a prison sentence up to two years.

The Act’s legal tool is the Forced Marriage Protection Order, which gives the courts a remedy for those already in forced marriages and could help to prevent others from entering forced marriages. Currently, victims, and “relevant third parties” specified by the Lord Chancellor, may apply for these orders without prior permission of the court. Local authorities may do so only with prior court permission, but the Ministry plans to add them to the relevant third parties list at a later date. During a family proceeding, a court may also make an order without an application, if it satisfies section 63C(6) of the Act.

Justice Minister Bridget Prentice said the orders are flexible enough to account for individual circumstances. Their contents are governed by section 63B of the Act. For example, orders requiring respondents to hand over passports and people’s whereabouts, preventing intimidation and violence, and stopping someone from being taken abroad, may all prevent people from entering forced marriages. Respondents may be people who are conspiring, forcing or attempting to force the victim to enter a marriage, as well as people “aiding, abetting, counselling [sic], procuring, encouraging or assisting” the former.

Full-text links:

Ministry of Justice press release

The Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act of 2007 (HTML or PDF, 21 pages)

For Ministry of Justice explanatory notes on the Act, please click here.

Compiled from:

Crown Copyright, Ministry of Justice, News: Victim Protection for Forced Marriages - New Law Comes into Force (25 November 2008).

Government of the United Kingdom, The Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act, Public Acts 2007 Chapter 20 (26 July 2007) (HTML or PDF, 21 pages).