New Laws to prevent forced marriages in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

Laws to prevent forced marriages and protect those who have already fallen victim have been introduced in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Under these new laws which are the first to specifically target the problem, a victim, friend or the police can apply for a Forced Marriage Protection Order, a court-issued injunction which would forbid families from actions such as taking people abroad for marriage, seizing passports or intimidating victims. It would also force family members to reveal a person's whereabouts.

Justice minister, Bridget Prentice said that 'This new law is a powerful tool that will help ensure that no-one is forced into marriage against their will and those already in such marriages will receive protection.' Penalties for breaching an order include up to two years' imprisonment.

Whilst the new legislation has been welcomed by representatives of the Asian community, the Conservative party has said that it does not go far enough and that the practice should be made illegal.

Ministers in Scotland are set to launch a consultation on whether civil legislation on forced marriage should be introduced there.