A major campaign has been launched to raise awareness of forced marriage.
New legislation means that forcing someone to wed will become a crime from next month, with anyone found guilty facing up to seven years in prison.
West Yorkshire Police and partner agencies have joined forces to emphasise the ‘right to choose’.
A series of radio advertisements are being broadcast, posters and leaflets have been distributed and there is an online video urging people not to suffer in silence.
Asst Chief Cons John Robins said: “Forced marriage is a crime where one or both spouses do not, or cannot, consent to the marriage and duress is involved. This can include physical, psychological, financial, sexual and emotional pressure.
“But let me make it really clear that this is not the same as an ‘arranged marriage’ which is a totally legal practice and involves the consent of both spouses.
‘Forced marriage is not specifically attached to a particular belief, culture or is it condoned through religion. Someone forced to marry may find it very difficult to take action to prevent it happening or initiate action to end a forced marriage. They may be subjected to sexual and ongoing domestic abuse, and in some cases, suffer violence and abuse from extended family members. Our campaign aims to raise awareness of the issues surrounding forced marriage, including the indicators of this crime and the potential consequences for perpetrators. It is also designed to prevent forced marriage in the first place, empowering victims and prompting enforcement activity.”
Visit http://www.westyorkshire.police.uk/forcedmarriage for more information on the new legislation. Anyone with information can also call police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.