THE words on our front page today are not extremely powerful and brave, they should also send hope and strength to young women across the UK.
Using force to make someone marry against their wishes is not right. It is not legal and it will be punished.
The offence of forced marriage came into effect in June 2014. It was never going to be easy to enforce, in the way that any domestic abuse or other abuse within a family is not easy to report, investigate or prosecute. But the fact that the legislation exists and that for the second time in the last two months judges have imposed jail terms on parents for attempting to impose forced marriages on their daughters will send a clear message that convictions will be pursued. That message needs to be heard not just by potential victims but by the parents and the communities where forced marriage could still be considered an option.
The young woman involved in this case said: “I will not be a victim for my parents’ honour and reputation”. In those words she acknowledges where the problem may lie. She goes further saying: “I want my elders to know that it is illegal and you can’t treat family like this.”
Like all abuse, the onus should not be on the victim to resist as others a blind eye, but on the wider family and community to make it unacceptable in the first place.
Parents who tried to force daughter to marry cousin in Bangladesh are jailed at Leeds Crown Court - read the story here