Forced marriage legislation
New legal protection comes into force.
From today (30 September) it will be a criminal offence to force someone into marriage in Scotland as new legislation is enacted.
The new offence, which will sit alongside protections already in place in Scotland was backed in the Scottish Parliament earlier in the year.
Scottish courts already have the power to implement Forced Marriage Protection Orders, which offer protection for both men and women who are affected by forced marriage.
That legislation meant Scotland was the first place in the UK to make it a criminal offence to breach an order, with penalties of a fine, up to two years in prison or both.
Cabinet Secretary for Equalities Shona Robison said:
“Scotland has a strong record of tackling all forms of violence against women, including forced marriage and today’s enactment of this criminal law is a welcome step in protecting some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
“Criminalising forced marriage gives an additional layer of protection for those affected by this issue and the new offence demonstrates that we are committed to meeting our international obligations and ensures consistency of protection across Scotland and the rest of the UK.
“Not only does this move send a strong message of support to victims but it also demonstrates Scotland’s unequivocal opposition to forced marriage to countries where this is prevalent and where there is a lack of a domestic legal infrastructure to protect people.
“As well as the new criminal law, we will shortly, with our partners, publish guidance for practitioners on responding to reports of forced marriage. A range of awareness raising materials will also be published to coincide with commencement and we have also funded a programme of multi-agency training which will take place over 2014/2015.”
Manager of Scottish Women’s Aid Lily Greenan said:
“Forced Marriage is recognised as a form of violence against women. Scottish Women’s Aid and our network of Women’s Aid groups across Scotland offer support to women and girls subjected to forced marriage and those at risk.
“It is vital that public and third sector agencies respond promptly and appropriately to those at risk and Scottish Women’s Aid and our member groups Shakti Women’s Aid and Hemat Gryffe Women’s Aid will be delivering an updated package of training to front-line practitioners on this issue.”
The Guidance for practitioners will be published later this week shortly. Awareness raising materials will be visible across a range of outdoor media sites and online at: http://onescotland.org/forcedmarriage
The Scottish Government has also commissioned further research into the issues around forced marriage and this will be published in due course.