There is currently no legislation (in the UK) explicitly banning forced marriage. Forced marriage is a problem in a number of minority communities and can involve the forced spouse being sent back home to marry or being forced to marry in the UK.
This is different from arranged marriage where, with the consent of the marrying parties, the parents/elders/matchmakers arrange a marriage for the two people involved. However, it is sometime hard to tell the difference.
All the Yes points:
- Non-consensual sexual relationship
- Religion does not support forced marriage
- Forced marriage is a barrier to integration
- The ban will give powers to police to crack down on the murky underworld of forced marriages
- Most of these marriages take place outside the jurisdiction of the UK
- Yes its slavery and rape.
All the No points:
- Status quo legislation is sufficient
- Perception of cultural attack
- Discouraging return
- Difficulties of Enforcement
Non-consensual sexual relationship
As most marriage is a social method of regulating sexual behaviour, forcing a person into marriage can be seen as the equivalent of forcing them into a sexual relationship with another person without their consent
Forcing a person into sex without their consent is already illegal. New legislation is not necessary.
Religion does not support forced marriage
Forced marriages are not supported theologically by any of the major religions. Whilst different religions may disagree on the nature of marriage and its formation, all are agreed that some level of consent is necessary. Forced marriage is no more than a barbaric tribal custom which has no place in a modern society
Religion and custom are often difficult to separate, even in revealed religions. An attack on a person or a group’s culture is often as upsetting to that group or person as an attack on their religion.
Although marriage is often a religious event, it is mainly just two people devoting their lives to each other and celebrating their relationship. Therefore religion should not come into it.
Forced marriage is a barrier to integration
Forced marriage is most commonly found in communities where is it more common to marry someone from ‘back home’. Where one person in each generation comes from the ‘home’ culture, this is a barrier to integration and encourages segregation. As children tend to learn behavioural norms from their parents and other family members, if they see a person who is not engaged with wider society because of language, culture or any other reason, they will see a lack of engagement by one parent as the ‘norm’.
The same logic applies to arranged marriages where there hasn’t been force or coercion. We recognise the right to a family and marriage as an individual human right. The asserted interests of the state cannot trump it in this instance.
The ban will give powers to police to crack down on the murky underworld of forced marriages
Forced marriages are difficult to detect because the physcial/mental coercion does not usually coincide with the wedding itself and even if you do find evidence of physical or mental abuses, it is even more tricky to link this with any alleged forced marriage. With the new ban police investigators will be able to look at paper trails, DNA samples and conduct interviews with those involved in the wedding and put together cases to prove that a marriage was not made in true consent of one or both of the spouses.
More importantly, any such ban would also send out a clear message that forced marriage is a custom that is not tolerated in this country and would also say to those that are being forced into marriages that the law of the land is on their side which will in turn increase the amount of people affected by this custom contacting the authorities anonymously as they feel less isolated as a result, from which effective investigation can begin.
Unless the unwilling bride or groom is dragged kicking and screaming to the registry office there is no black and white distinction between a forced marriage and a consensual one. There may be some physical/financial coercion going on in the shadows but it is empirically impossible to decide whether this constitutes as forcing someone into marriage unless there is literally a shotgun wedding situation afoot and there are laws to deal with that already.
Even if the police found a document detailing how the family would pay the couple to marry one another the couple still have consent despite that decision being complete with attractive incentives. Any physical coercion or threats can be dealt with separately as we have laws for that sort of nonsense already. No new laws are necessary.
It would really be a waste of our time to make any such law and nobody wants a dummy law that does nothing to solve the problem it was intended to solve and could only potentially create new ones by the single fact that it is a law and there are people who love to find loopholes out there.
Most of these marriages take place outside the jurisdiction of the UK
Although this debate has been focussed on the UK or the US standard legal practices, the title does not make it clear that these are the only circumstances which we are considering here. In some cultures non-consensual sex within marriage is legal. Thus forced marriages would effectively be leading to what we, in the Western world, regard as rape.
Yes its slavery and rape.
It is slavery and rape and has no place in any society.
Status quo legislation is sufficient
Under the status quo, a marriage in the UK requires the consent of both parties, if this is not given, the marriage is invalid.
If a marriage took place abroad and one part wishes to end it, divorce is legal. Alternatively, a couple can stay married but live apart with no legal sanction against them.
Forcing someone to have sex without them consenting it also against the law, even if the two parties are married.
Legislation is already in place which can prevent forced marriages, dissolve them or prevent their most harmful effects. There is therefore no need for additional legislation.
Whilst the legislation may be present, it is not being used. By explicitly banning the practice, we send a clear message that it is unacceptable.
Regarding marriages which take place abroad and where the parties when return to the UK, even if divorce is available, it still restricts the right of parties to marry in the time during which the divorce is being processed.
Perception of cultural attack
Even if there isn’t any theological support for forced marriage, many groups in the UK would see legislation which directly prohibited it as an attack on their group/culture. The perception of such an attack can lead to people feeling victimised and disassociated with wider culture.
We ban all sorts of cultural practices, for example, FGM. Where the harm to individuals is so great, the ‘rights’ of the group must be sacrificed.
The rights of the individual should not be put behind the those of a culture or group. Along the line brought up about people being victimised and disassociated with wider culture, how much more could a person be victimised and dissociated than by being subject to a forced marriage?
The softly softly approach taken by the authorities towards the communities where these practices take place has led to virtually thousands of women being kept under house arrest in parts of this country. Ask any women’s shelter to cite their statistics.
Under the SQ, a number of people marry abroad and then return to the UK. In the UK, whilst the situation may not be ideal, these people often have more rights (both legally and culturally) than if they had stayed in the country in which they got married. If such legislation was passed, the number of people who did not return would increase meaning they were completely beyond any law which could help them.
The UK is generally seen as a desirable place to live. As many of these marriages take place in order for the non-citizen spouse to gain a right to enter the UK, the chance of more people staying the country in which they got married, as opposed to moving back to the UK, is unlikely.
Difficulties of Enforcement
How can we differentiate between what is a ‘forced marriage’ that someone does not wish to enter into, and between an ‘arranged marriage’, which may still be a forced marriage, but also may not be.
If someone turns up to the wedding reception, could this not be argued that this is a tacit agreement to the arrangement?
But some are threatened by parents that by de-owning or cut off by parents. Forced, arranged it doesn’t matter i beleive marriage should be done outta love not of how rich the other person is.