Forced marriage is “little more than slavery”, Prime Minister David Cameron has said as the UK Government announced plans to make it a criminal offence.
Parents who force their children into a marriage will face jail in what Mr. Cameron said was a “clear and strong message” that the practice would not be tolerated.
The British prime Minister said: “Forced marriage is abhorrent and is little more than slavery. To force anyone into marriage against their will is simply wrong and that is why we have taken decisive action to make it illegal.”
Under the plan, forced marriages will become a criminal offence in England, Wales and the North.
British Home Secretary Theresa May said: “It is the right of every individual to make their own choices about their relationships and their future.
In a sign of how widespread the problem is, the UK government released statistics that showed the cross-departmental Forced Marriages Unit had been involved in almost 594 cases from January to May this year.
Some 45% involved victims under the age of 18, 87% of all cases involved a female victim and 46% had Pakistan as the country of origin.
London had 20.9% of cases, the West Midlands 16.7%, South East 10.4%, Yorkshire & Humberside 5.3%, North West 5.1%, South West 2.6%, East Midlands 2.2%, Scotland 1.9%, Wales 1.4%, North East 1.4%, East of England 1.2% and the North 0.2%.