Scotland’s planned adoption of England’s laws on forced marriage have been described as “dangerous” and “retrograde” by a leading expert.
The warning comes as the Scottish Government draws up plans to amend its forced marriages legislation introduced in 2011, following a recent European ruling.
A new report has shown women’s support agencies in Scotland have experienced a significant increase in referrals, and follows the rare testimony of a victim in yesterday’s Sunday Herald.
Lawyer John Fotheringham, who was one of the leading proponents of the 2011 legislation, said: “This will stop the victims of forced marriage seeking a nullity because it would criminalise the family. We are failing the victims if we go down this route and it could be dangerous for them. “Under the current law, the criminality lies in breaching an order. The order itself can be drawn very flexibly.
Mr Fotheringham, an associate with bto solicitors, said: “This [change] is a retrograde step. The point of the Scottish position is that a young person will be dissuaded from seeking an order if the order itself will criminalise members of her family.”