The Ministry of Justice has introduced tougher penalties for those who break Forced Marriage Protection Orders (FMPO). It is now a criminal offence to breach a FMPO punishable by up to five years in prison.
Forced marriage is a marriage in which one or both individuals do not (or cannot) consent to marriage, but are forced into it. Being forced can include: physical, psychological, financial, sexual and emotional pressure.
Victims of forced marriage can be both women and men, and the marriages may take place in the UK or overseas. Previously there was no specific offence of forcing someone to marry – however someone could be prosecuted for criminal offences involved in forcing someone to marry such as kidnap, false imprisonment, assault, child abduction, harassment, etc. The FMPO use civil law to protect someone at risk of being forced into a marriage. A FMPO puts in place restrictions for example: not to threaten or use force against the person concerned; to not take a person’s passport or other travel document; and not to arrange the engagement or marriage of the person protected by the FMPO. A new offence of breaching a FMPO has been introduced with a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment, a fine or both on indictment (serious crime) and six months imprisonment, a fine or both on summary (lower level).
A new offence of forced marriage has also been introduced with a maximum sentence of seven years imprisonment, a fine or both on indictment (more serious) and six months imprisonment, a fine or both, on summary (lower level).
The new measures are being brought in by the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing (ASBCP) Bill, which was introduced on 9th May 2013 and includes measures to make both forced marriage and the breach of an FMPO a criminal offence.