A 34 year old man, convicted for forcing a woman to marry him using blackmail, has been jailed for 16 years in what is seen as the first ever conviction on forced marriage.
The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, introduced forced marriage as a new offence meaning that under s.121 (1) of the Act, any person who “uses violence, threats or any other form of coercion” to enter into a marriage can be imprisoned for a maximum of 7 years.
In this case, the man, from South Wales, was sentenced to 4 years for the forced marriage offence, 12 months for voyeurism, 12 months for bigamy to run concurrently with a 16 years rape conviction. The judge described the convicted man as an “arrogant, manipulative and devious man” who had tricked and deceived the victim by keeping her gagged and tied up in his home whilst also threatening to kill her father.
The change in law was a result of years of tireless campaigning by pressure groups and other forced marriage victims. The charity, Karma Nirvana, issued a statement:
“We are proud that the UK has the first conviction for forced marriage. We hope that this will send a strong message out to those perpetrating this heinous crime that forced marriage will not be tolerated in the UK.”
By criminalising forced marriage, a breach of a Forced Marriage Protection Order may result in a prison sentence for the perpetrator. The Act firther strengthens and reaffirms the powers that were introduced in the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007.