Issued by the Home Office December 2011
4 April 2012
Introduction to our response
- The Commission has a statutory duty to promote equality and diversity, work towards the elimination of discrimination, promote human rights and build good relations between and among groups. The Commission has responsibilities in nine areas of equality: age, disability, gender, gender identity, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership and pregnancy and maternity as well as human rights.
- The Commission welcomes the opportunity to respond to this consultation . The Commission condemns forced marriages and considers that a forced marriage is a serious violation of human rights and one which may amount to domestic violence against women and children in some situations. The requirement that marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses is recognised in article 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights and it is expressly provided for in other international human rights instruments such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.
- The primary focus of the Home Office consultation paper is on the criminalisation of forced marriages. It seeks views on two key questions:
a. whether to make a breach of a forced marriage protection order a criminal offence
b. whether to make a forced marriage a criminal offence.
The stated aims are protection and deterrence; both are legitimate and laudable aims. The Commission supports the government's intention to make a breach of a forced marriage protection order a criminal offence. However, we are not sure that the case is yet made for the proposal that a forced marriage in itself be made a criminal offence. A new offence could have a deterrent effect and send a clear signal that the practice is unacceptable but we believe that the current law is adequate for the purposes of protection and prevention if properly enforced.
Download the full consultation response