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Forced marriage to be a crime

Following a debate earlier this week, the Scottish Parliament has voted in favour of making forced marriage a criminal offence.

MSPs discussed plans, proposed via a Legislative Consent Motion, which will see Scotland adopt planned UK-wide legislation.

Scottish courts already have the power to issue Forced Marriage Protection Orders (FMPOs), which are intended to offer protection for both men and women who are affected by forced marriage. Breaching an FMPO is a criminal offence which could result in a two year prison sentence, a fine or both. The UK-wide plans will make it a specific criminal offence to force someone into marriage.

Referring to the Istanbul Convention on Tackling Violence Against Women, to which the UK Government is a signatory, Minister for Equalities Shona Robison expalined:

“Article 37 of that Convention requires forced marriage to be a criminal offence. It is our view that existing criminal offences in Scotland are not adequate to meet the requirements of Article 37, and I note that this view was backed up by the Justice Committee.

“The Istanbul Convention was, in effect, a game changer. We know that violence against women stakeholders are very keen for the Istanbul Convention to be ratified, and we want Scotland to be compliant. Criminalising forced marriage was therefore necessary to achieve this.”

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