The Law Society of Scotland has called for an education campaign to reinforce new legislation on forced marriage.
The Society supports the Forced Marriage etc. (Protection and Jurisdiction) (Scotland) Bill, which was introduced by Nicola Sturgeon MSP on 29 September 2010 but has stated that the legislation alone will not reduce instances of forced marriage in Scotland. The bill aims to protect people from being forced to marry without their free and full consent and will also protect persons who have already been forced into marriage without their consent.
The Society has played an active role in the development of the legislation over a number of years and has been part of the Scottish Government’s Forced Marriage Network since it was set up in 2005 in addition to meeting with the Scottish Government’s Equality Unit and giving oral evidence on the issue to the Scottish Parliament’s Equal Opportunities Committee. A number of the Society’s suggested amendments have been incorporated, including the addition of a civil partnership provision in the bill. The Society has also stressed the need for the judiciary and courts to have guidance, due to the low incidence of forced marriages cases in the past.
John Fotheringham, vice convener of the Society’s Family Law Committee, said: “We are very pleased this legislation has been passed by MSPs as although instances of forced marriage in Scotland are fairly low, the impact of each individual case can be devastating. This is an important piece of legislation which will have the capacity to address the issue.
“We have stressed however, that legislation alone will not be sufficient to reduce instances of forced marriage. A proactive approach of educating communities where this problem occurs is crucial in efforts to prevent it. Resources should be allocated to educate children from an early age that forced marriage is wrong and that in addition to legal remedies, support is available for victims and potential victims.”
The Society also feels there is a need for an accompanying education and awareness campaign – not just for victims and their families but for those involved in the administration of justice as well as to ensure that the legislation can be accessed by those who need it most.
ENDS 22 MARCH 2011
Notes to editors
Society amends in stage 1 report: http://www.lawscot.org.uk/news/press-releases/2011/january/news_20110127
Society gives oral evidence to Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee: http://www.lawscot.org.uk/news/press-releases/2010/november/news_20101124
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:
Mr John Fotheringham is available for an interview through the contact details below.
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