Of course, forced marriages are not a new phenomenon . . .
but in the current context, the new law is principally aimed at eliminating the practice of ‘forced’ marriages in Asian communities living in England & Wales.
This is a laudable aim – though I’m not sure how . . . effective the new legislation will be in practice. Not all victims of a forced marriage are going to come forward and report their parents if by doing so their parents are going to be imprisoned. Nor am I sure how the proposed legislation is going to help young girls taken from the UK to the likes of Pakistan ‘on holiday or to attend a ‘family celebration’ only to have their passports seized by relatives on arrival and forced to marry a man, often many years their senior, that they have never met?
It is important to draw a distinction between an ‘arranged’ marriage and a ‘forced’ marriage – since the two are often confused.
In an ‘arranged’ marriage, parents seek to find suitable partners for their sons and daughters, someone they think their child will like, but there is no physical coercion to make the couple marry. The prime concern is to find someone that their son or daughter will be happy with. If the couple do not hit it off when they meet they can go their separate ways and move on to the next candidate on the list their parents have drawn up.
In a ‘forced’ marriage, on the other hand, a daughter is treated as a commodity to be traded for socio-economical-political advantage benefiting the parents. Refusal is not an option. Kidnapping, false imprisonment, and beatings are very often brought to bear on an unwilling bride to ensure compliance. Psychological pressure too is often applied – appeals not to stain the family’s honour by refusing to go through with the match
While the majority of ‘Forced’ marriages involve reluctant brides, men too are often forced into marriages not of their choice.
If the new legislation reduces, then, the number of men and women in England & Wales pressurised – for socio-economical-political reasons – into marrying someone they don’t love it will be a good thing
Sadly, though, there was no such legislation in place to help this poor victim of a ‘forced’ marriage .