Author Topic: Britain - Forced Marriage 'To Become Criminal Offence'  (Read 2150 times)

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Offline Odysseus

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Britain - Forced Marriage 'To Become Criminal Offence'
« on: June 07, 2012, 11:46:26 AM »
http://uk.news.yahoo.com/forced-marriage-become-criminal-offence-132538028.html

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Britain - Forced Marriage 'To Become Criminal Offence'

Plans to make forced marriage a criminal offence are expected to be announced by Home Secretary Theresa May this week.
The Government is already committed to criminalising breaches of civil Forced Marriage Protection Orders.
But the Home Office has been consulting on whether forcing someone to marry should be made an offence in its own right in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The consultation, which closed at the end of March, was launched at the request of Prime Minister David Cameron , who previously said that forced marriage was "little more than slavery" and "completely wrong".
There are concerns that criminalising forced marriage altogether could deter victims from coming forward.
But Mr Cameron said in October he was asking Mrs May to consult on the idea and ways to "make sure that such a step would not prevent or hinder (victims) from reporting what has happened to them".
Mrs May is to make an announcement on forced marriages on Friday, but reports that the Government was proceeding with making it a criminal offence were not confirmed by Downing Street or the Home Office.
A Home Office spokesman said: "Forced marriage is an appalling form of abuse and we are determined tackle it.
"That's why we have held a consultation on making it a criminal offence and will criminalise the breach of Forced Marriage Protection Orders.
"That consultation closed on March 30 and we will analyse the responses before announcing the way forward."

About bloody time IMO.

For those over in the states who are about to scoff at Britain's laxity on this (and well you might..)....

From here ->    http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=106563

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...Even women from various other ethnic communities such as Hispanic, Chinese and African identify with her. Sri found that, though there is some basic awareness of the incidence forced marriages, there were very few people directly addressing the issue. Most people living in the U.S. believe that forced marriages happen only in remote corners of the third world and are shocked to hear about it happening in their own.

This year, says Sri, Tahirih Justice Center released the results of the very first U.S. forced marriage survey, finding about 3,000 cases in the country in the last two years. Heather Heiman, senior public policy attorney for Tahirih, said this number is "just scratching the surface" of the problem, as many victims are reluctant to come forward with their stories....

BBC news said today that as many as 8000 individuals a year in Briatin are affected by forced marriage.

The question for me is when does 'arranged' marriage -not illegal- become 'forced' marriage -shortly to become illegal?  It looks like a fine line to tread when you consider pressure from families and peers to conform to cultural behaviours.  The black-and-white brigade will maintain that if one party does not want to go through with the marriage then that can be considered a forced marriage if it is followed through, and that is fair enough, but given societal pressures, this may be difficult to police.  I guess there is as much a responsibility on the part of the would-be bride or groom to make their resistance to a marriage known, but there may be a certain amount of bravery required to do this, especially considering the penchant for some of the more extreme parts of society to engage in honour killings and suchlike if their wishes are not carried out. 

Offline bosk1

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Re: Britain - Forced Marriage 'To Become Criminal Offence'
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2012, 12:02:59 PM »
The question for me is when does 'arranged' marriage -not illegal- become 'forced' marriage -shortly to become illegal?  It looks like a fine line to tread when you consider pressure from families and peers to conform to cultural behaviours.  The black-and-white brigade will maintain that if one party does not want to go through with the marriage then that can be considered a forced marriage if it is followed through, and that is fair enough, but given societal pressures, this may be difficult to police.

This was the question that immediately came to my mind.  What is "forced" marriage?  Is there a legal definition?  If not, is there a commonly accepted practical definition?  I'm not sure I see how "forced" marriage is different than "arranged" marriage, but that is perhaps merely because of my own ignorance on the subject.
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Offline Adami

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Re: Britain - Forced Marriage 'To Become Criminal Offence'
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2012, 12:05:17 PM »
Arranged marriages have changed quite a bit in many cultures. I've heard that a modern version is when the family arranges for the people to meet, but they decide (albeit quickly) if they want to continue. If they choose not to continue, the family arranges another one until something works out. This way they're not out looking for people, but it's not forced.
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Online eric42434224

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Re: Britain - Forced Marriage 'To Become Criminal Offence'
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2012, 12:06:00 PM »
Maybe its like sodomy.  Its all illegal, but if you dig doin the brown eye and dont file a complaint, no one is going to prosecute.  Maybe it is the same with forced marriages.  Someone may be very happy, or at least accepting, of their arranged marriage.  No complaint, no crime.
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Offline Odysseus

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Re: Britain - Forced Marriage 'To Become Criminal Offence'
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2012, 12:07:57 PM »
This was the question that immediately came to my mind.  What is "forced" marriage?  Is there a legal definition?  If not, is there a commonly accepted practical definition?  I'm not sure I see how "forced" marriage is different than "arranged" marriage, but that is perhaps merely because of my own ignorance on the subject.

Absolutely! Same here. Made me think about it quite a bit.  Not being from a culture that practises arranged marriage, it's quite difficult.  They'd need to get those definitions nailed down in order to legislate effectively. 

Offline bosk1

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Re: Britain - Forced Marriage 'To Become Criminal Offence'
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2012, 12:26:36 PM »
This was the question that immediately came to my mind.  What is "forced" marriage?  Is there a legal definition?  If not, is there a commonly accepted practical definition?  I'm not sure I see how "forced" marriage is different than "arranged" marriage, but that is perhaps merely because of my own ignorance on the subject.

Absolutely! Same here. Made me think about it quite a bit.  Not being from a culture that practises arranged marriage, it's quite difficult.  They'd need to get those definitions nailed down in order to legislate effectively. 

Interesting.  I admit, I haven't thought much about the topic, so I'm not even confident I have a very strong position.  But just off the cuff, I think this is basically where I would stand on the issue:  If we are talking about arranged marriages, and the families exert pressure by the actual or implied threat of violence, I think the ban makes sense (although I would think that the legal system would basically already cover this under other similar laws, such as rules prohibiting assault [which is the threat of physical violence], extortion, etc., making a new law redundant and unnecessary).  On the other hand, I think coercion in the form of threats of shunning by the family, religious or cultural group, etc., shouldn't really be criminalized.  I mean, I have a really hard time saying that type of thing is okay.  But then again, I'm not from a culture that would really do that sort of thing, so it's hard for me to relate to it.  As much as I think that type of thing goes against what I think is the best way to approach marriage, I also the government should mostly stay out of these kids of things. 

But, again, all that being said, I am perfectly prepared to accept others trying to change my views on the subject.
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Offline theseoafs

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Re: Britain - Forced Marriage 'To Become Criminal Offence'
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2012, 02:21:27 PM »
Maybe its like sodomy.  Its all illegal, but if you dig doin the brown eye and dont file a complaint, no one is going to prosecute.  Maybe it is the same with forced marriages.  Someone may be very happy, or at least accepting, of their arranged marriage.  No complaint, no crime.
Is sodomy illegal in GB?

Offline yeshaberto

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Re: Britain - Forced Marriage 'To Become Criminal Offence'
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2012, 03:04:11 PM »
This was the question that immediately came to my mind.  What is "forced" marriage?  Is there a legal definition?  If not, is there a commonly accepted practical definition?  I'm not sure I see how "forced" marriage is different than "arranged" marriage, but that is perhaps merely because of my own ignorance on the subject.

Absolutely! Same here. Made me think about it quite a bit.  Not being from a culture that practises arranged marriage, it's quite difficult.  They'd need to get those definitions nailed down in order to legislate effectively. 

Interesting.  I admit, I haven't thought much about the topic, so I'm not even confident I have a very strong position.  But just off the cuff, I think this is basically where I would stand on the issue:  If we are talking about arranged marriages, and the families exert pressure by the actual or implied threat of violence, I think the ban makes sense (although I would think that the legal system would basically already cover this under other similar laws, such as rules prohibiting assault [which is the threat of physical violence], extortion, etc., making a new law redundant and unnecessary).  On the other hand, I think coercion in the form of threats of shunning by the family, religious or cultural group, etc., shouldn't really be criminalized.  I mean, I have a really hard time saying that type of thing is okay.  But then again, I'm not from a culture that would really do that sort of thing, so it's hard for me to relate to it.  As much as I think that type of thing goes against what I think is the best way to approach marriage, I also the government should mostly stay out of these kids of things. 

But, again, all that being said, I am perfectly prepared to accept others trying to change my views on the subject.

I would have to agree

Offline Odysseus

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Re: Britain - Forced Marriage 'To Become Criminal Offence'
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2012, 03:13:02 PM »
Interesting.  I admit, I haven't thought much about the topic, so I'm not even confident I have a very strong position.  But just off the cuff, I think this is basically where I would stand on the issue:  If we are talking about arranged marriages, and the families exert pressure by the actual or implied threat of violence, I think the ban makes sense (although I would think that the legal system would basically already cover this under other similar laws, such as rules prohibiting assault [which is the threat of physical violence], extortion, etc., making a new law redundant and unnecessary).  On the other hand, I think coercion in the form of threats of shunning by the family, religious or cultural group, etc., shouldn't really be criminalized.  I mean, I have a really hard time saying that type of thing is okay.  But then again, I'm not from a culture that would really do that sort of thing, so it's hard for me to relate to it.  As much as I think that type of thing goes against what I think is the best way to approach marriage, I also the government should mostly stay out of these kids of things. 

But, again, all that being said, I am perfectly prepared to accept others trying to change my views on the subject.

Yep. I'm with you for the most part, but the coercion part really gets me.  I think that individuals should have the ability to opt out of their cultural baggage and embrace 'modernity' (however we want to define it) without there having to be an honour killing first so that a crime can be said to have occurred and an arrest made.  Sheesh... I agree that it's not an easy one. I can see the possibility of some human rights laws being invoked as guidelines here, though I don't know which as I'm no expert.  With that in mind I think it is a good idea to make any potential hatchet-merchants aware that they will be subject to laws that have them directly in mind.  Laws should evolve (no gag intended) to cope with changes in our societies... within reason, obviously.  I guess it's always going to be an ongoing topic and you can't please everyone.

Is sodomy illegal in GB?

I think it used to be, but not any more.

Offline senecadawg2

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Re: Britain - Forced Marriage 'To Become Criminal Offence'
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2012, 03:46:35 PM »
It's about time someone forced their hand on the matter.
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Offline Scheavo

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Re: Britain - Forced Marriage 'To Become Criminal Offence'
« Reply #10 on: June 08, 2012, 01:01:04 PM »
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Most people living in the U.S. believe that forced marriages happen only in remote corners of the third world and are shocked to hear about it happening in their own.

I'm not really sure that's a valid point to make. Should we really be surprised at what Americans are surprised to find out is true? Things like this are just not reasonably enforceable. It would require a massively invasive government, perhaps as extreme as 1984 - meaning it's also **not** possible.

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There are concerns that criminalising forced marriage altogether could deter victims from coming forward.


I think this concern really unveils a really big problem with this law, which is what y'all have been talking about. But I think Bosk hit it on the nail the head, by pointing out that truly forced marriages should be covered under current law. By adding a newer, slightly more board, definition to "forced marriages," who becomes more legally responsible? Are parents culpable, even if only as accessories to a crime? Because if that's true, I can definitely see how this would just lead to fewer reports than there already is, and thus lead to more actual instances of forced marriage. I can't imagine that many people want to accuse their parents of a crime, or if they do, it's probably because they were committing what was already a crime.

*edit*

Hate when I forget a word that completely changes the meaning of a sentence.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2012, 11:46:41 AM by Scheavo »

Offline Odysseus

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Re: Britain - Forced Marriage 'To Become Criminal Offence'
« Reply #11 on: June 08, 2012, 02:40:21 PM »
All valid points, I'd say.

Out of interest, under which current law(s) could someone be indicted with regard to 'forced marriage'?  I don't know a great deal about US law and I'd guess it would vary from state to state, most things seem to.

I agree that it would probably be bloody difficult to enforce but I'm not sure the alternative of doing nothing is a particularly good one.

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There are concerns that criminalising forced marriage altogether could deter victims from coming forward.

There's nothing wrong with someone agreeing to go along with an arranged marriage - that itself would not constitute a 'forced' marriage and it happens in plenty of countries.  The difference would be when someone is forced to marry someone against their will.  That is the issue for me - someone's physical and emotional wellbeing being hijacked by someone else over some diktat from hundreds of years ago... or even recently, come to that.

Offline Scheavo

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Re: Britain - Forced Marriage 'To Become Criminal Offence'
« Reply #12 on: June 10, 2012, 11:57:48 AM »
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I agree that it would probably be bloody difficult to enforce but I'm not sure the alternative of doing nothing is a particularly good one.

I'd say you're creating a false dichotomy here, where it's either pass a new law making it a criminal offense, or do nothing. Those are not the only two options. As an analogy, take the war on drugs. By making drug possession and use a criminal offense, it deters people from seeking the help they need, because they're afraid of the legal consequences. By actually making something a criminal offense, you can very easily make the problem worse.

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someone's ... emotional wellbeing being hijacked by someone else

I think the problem with this, is the idea that someone's emotions are their own, and persona. Yes, only we ourselves feel our own emotions, but what we feel is constantly affected by other persons and the society around us. When someone cares what their parents think, is that their emotional wellbeing being hijacked? I certainly agree that it can become an abusive problem, but I don't think it's something you can draw nice lines around, and say that this is abusive, and that this is normal - especially not to the extent to make some of that behavior criminal.

There's a vast difference between something being illegal, and something being criminal.



Offline Odysseus

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Re: Britain - Forced Marriage 'To Become Criminal Offence'
« Reply #13 on: June 11, 2012, 05:10:36 AM »
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I agree that it would probably be bloody difficult to enforce but I'm not sure the alternative of doing nothing is a particularly good one.

I'd say you're creating a false dichotomy here, where it's either pass a new law making it a criminal offense, or do nothing. Those are not the only two options. As an analogy, take the war on drugs. By making drug possession and use a criminal offense, it deters people from seeking the help they need, because they're afraid of the legal consequences. By actually making something a criminal offense, you can very easily make the problem worse.


I didn't mean that there were only two options, more that I'd rather see the problem addressed than not addressed.  And, like we've pretty much all agreed on, it's not an easy one.


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someone's ... emotional wellbeing being hijacked by someone else

I think the problem with this, is the idea that someone's emotions are their own, and persona. Yes, only we ourselves feel our own emotions, but what we feel is constantly affected by other persons and the society around us. When someone cares what their parents think, is that their emotional wellbeing being hijacked? I certainly agree that it can become an abusive problem, but I don't think it's something you can draw nice lines around, and say that this is abusive, and that this is normal - especially not to the extent to make some of that behavior criminal.

There's a vast difference between something being illegal, and something being criminal.

I agree that the emotional wellbeing of the individual doesn't exist in isolation.  You could reverse what you said and ask whether the parent who is prepared to sacrifice the emotional and physical wellbeing of their child over some archaic writings is best placed to make calls on morality, particularly if they are prepared to play on their child's love to achieve this.  None of this is black and white - many dynamics are in play here.

It will be an interesting story to follow I should think....
« Last Edit: June 11, 2012, 05:24:33 AM by Odysseus »

Offline Scheavo

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Re: Britain - Forced Marriage 'To Become Criminal Offence'
« Reply #14 on: June 11, 2012, 12:17:44 PM »
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You could reverse what you said and ask whether the parent who is prepared to sacrifice the emotional and physical wellbeing of their child over some archaic writings is best placed to make calls on morality, particularly if they are prepared to play on their child's love to achieve this.

Given this, I don't see how or why politicians and lawmakers are in an appropriate position to say what is best for some persons wellbeing they've never met. Abusive and violent behavior shouldn't be accepted, but honestly, I wish our culture was a little more inclined to the idea of "arranged" marriages. But maybe that's just because I flail around like a fish out of water in the current dating scene.

Offline Odysseus

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Re: Britain - Forced Marriage 'To Become Criminal Offence'
« Reply #15 on: June 11, 2012, 03:55:44 PM »
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You could reverse what you said and ask whether the parent who is prepared to sacrifice the emotional and physical wellbeing of their child over some archaic writings is best placed to make calls on morality, particularly if they are prepared to play on their child's love to achieve this.

Given this, I don't see how or why politicians and lawmakers are in an appropriate position to say what is best for some persons wellbeing they've never met. Abusive and violent behavior shouldn't be accepted, but honestly, I wish our culture was a little more inclined to the idea of "arranged" marriages. But maybe that's just because I flail around like a fish out of water in the current dating scene.

Arranged marriages are fine.  As long as the bride and groom are ok with having their marriage arranged by others, I don't think anyone else should be able to complain.  It's the 'forced' aspect of it that most people are against, and reasonably so.  As far as the government goes, I'd say it is not unreasonable to legislate against someone having to marry someone they don't like because if they don't, Uncle Ishtar will be round with a machete.  We have laws to protect the wellbeing of the public in general, but like we've said, this is a particularly difficult and interesting area to legislate for.