Forced Marriages

A young British Muslim girl named Ayesha was living in England, and living a normal life. When she turned eighteen, her parents forced her to go to Pakistan, and marry a stranger. For years, he abused and raped her. When she tried to run away, her uncle and her father would hunt her down and they tried to kill her. She was finally able to escape.  Another girl named Sadia got beaten by her father when he discovered that she had a boyfriend. Her father kept bringing men around his age to marry her. Sadia was able to escape before she had to go through with the marriage, but she as well as Ayesha are both in hiding from their families.

A forced marriage is when two parties are to be married and one party does not consent to the union. The participant who does not agree to the matrimony is typically threatened or abused to comply. It differs from an arranged marriage because in an arranged marriage both parties consent, but have the opportunity to refuse to marry. In a forced marriage, there is no refusing. The United Kingdom recognizes forced marriages as a violation of human rights

In 2007, the United Kingdom created the Forced Marriage Civil Protection Act. This Act was designed to help protect people and prevent forced marriages. The Act also institutes protective measures for those who are already in a forced marriage.

According to the Foreign Office Forced Marriage Unit, about 400 cases have been reported, and many cases have gone unreported.  The Department of Children, Schools, and Families have conducted research that there are probably 8,000 cases a year of forced marriages in the England.

The Protection Act provides court orders to be made to prevent a forced marriage, to stop intimidation and violence; and to stop someone from being taken abroad.

There are charities being created to increase awareness and to prevent victims from being taken abroad to be married. Karma Nirvana is a charity with a helpline for victims of forced marriages. The charity tells the victims who call to stick a spoon in their underwear when they are to fly to a different country for the marriage. This enables the victims to be stopped by airline security and be taken to a room to be searched. By taking the victims to another room away from their parents, the victims can tell security that they are being taken out of the country and being forced into a marriage they do not consent to.

Should forcing someone into a forced marriages be a criminal offense in the United Kingdom?

 

Sources:

BBC

UK Legislation

Safe World

Independent

4 comments

  1. First of all, I must say that the Forced Marriage Civil Protection Act created by the UK in 2007 is such a great way to deal with the problems related to forced marriages. It shows us the fact that the UK does not ignore this problem and is working on to make sure that people are not taken abroad and forced into a marriage which they do not consent. Security check at the airports is not great tool is being done. Therefore, actions taken by the UK to prevent forced marriages are crucial and appreciable.
    With regards to making “forcing someone into a forced marriage” a criminal offense, I believe it should definitely be something to take into consideration by the UK. I think it will have a direct effect on the society and people’s minds in terms of deterrence. Families who think about doing such actions will be punished by law.
    Further, I hope that actions taken by the UK would set a model for the rest of the world, and such laws would be imposed on those people who do not care or respect the choices of their daughters and sons because forcing someone into a marriage that he/she does not consent is clearly a violation of human rights.

  2. Although I am glad that the UK enacted this Act, I strongly believe they need to criminalize forced marriages. The amount of forced marriages that occur each year is uncalled for. This Act is obviously not deterring people from forcing those into marriages. There needs to be more done to send a message to prevent this. Making one marry without their consent, kind of resembles slavery by forcing one to work. Maybe they can expand the slavery law to incorporate forced marriages. However, one down side to criminalizing forced marriages, is the possibility of victims not coming forward. Maybe they do not want to get their relatives in trouble. Nevertheless, the UK needs to bring more awareness and help those who are forcefully placed in this situation.

  3. Looking at this case from a purely American perspective, I do believe that forced marriages should be a criminal offense, unless the parties consent to being involved in forced marriages. In my opinion, marriage is a fundamental human right. With this right, comes the ability to choose whom you marry. Forced marriages then, on the other hand, essentially abandon this right by forcing certain people to marry each other. This to me, without consent, is an infringement on the right to marry, and thus, is a criminal act. Therefore, forced marriage should be a criminal offense in the UK and every country.

    The Forced Marriage Civil Protection Act in the UK is definitely a great first step in rectifying the situation. I think it was a wise decision for the UK to start first with an Act providing certain protections from forced marriages. I think as people accept the Act and grow more accustomed to that way of life and thinking, the UK can and will make more progressive steps in abolishing forced marriages, as a whole, making it a criminal offense.

  4. I believe that forcing someone into a marriage should be a criminal offense. Parents that force their children to marry are overbearing on the will and freedom of their child, and in cases that you mentioned, they are coercing their children into abusive relationships. By making forced marriages a criminal offense, the government may be more successful at deterring such behavior. However, the UK’s Protection Act is a great step in the right direction. Children, or even adults for that matter, should never be coerced into marrying a stranger, especially if the stranger maltreats them and is twice their age. It is very sad and disturbing how Ayesha and Sadia have to run and hide from their own parents, when parents should have their child’s best interest in mind, and not be forcing their children into tumultuous relationships. I believe that this phenomenon unfortunately occurs frequently occurs throughout the world. Hopefully more victims will head to the advice of the charity when they are being forced to go abroad, and hopefully stricter policies will minimize this type of behavior.

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