“Without legislation, forced marriages will continue to go unpunished,” Polly Harrar, founder and director of The Sharan Project told the IBTimes UK.
The shocking death of Amina Filali, the 16-year-old Moroccan girl who took her own life after she was coerced into marrying her rapist, has renewed debate about the criminalisation of forced marriages in the UK.
David Cameron announced in October that he wanted to strengthen the law against forced marriage by making it a criminal offence to breach a forced marriage protection order. Some ministers proposed to go further, making it a separate criminal offence.
The Home Office has been sceptical about introducing a new criminal offence that would be difficult to define and difficult to enforce. Existing offences such as kidnapping, people trafficking and abduction were enough to deal with the problem, it said.
But in December home secretary Teresa May launched consultations into making forced marriage a crime. The issue is gaining momentum among organisations that work with women victims of abuses.