Tory Muslim peer says forced marriages should be made a crime ‘like domestic violence’

Last updated at 00:58am on 11th March 2008
The Daily Mail (UK)
hat tip-Margo I.

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi‘Intolerable’: Baroness Warsi wants forced marriages to be outlawed in the UK

Forced marriages should be made a crime to send out a clear signal that it is “intolerable”, a Tory Muslim peer said yesterday.

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, shadow minister for community cohesion and social action, dismissed arguments against making forced marriages a crime, saying that they were the same that were used against banning domestic violence.

But she told peers: “We did make domestic violence a crime and we put down a benchmark that this is intolerable.

“Is it not now time to make forced marriages a criminal offence to say very clearly that this will not be tolerated and people will be prosecuted for committing this offence?”

Home Office minister Lord West of Spithead replied: “The difficulty is that these things happen in families. We have taken a lot of advice and talked to many people.

“There is a feeling that the crime would go even further underground because people generally do not want to put their families through this.

“It is a very interesting debate and interesting issue and clearly we will have to consider it further and go into more dialogue on it.”

He said that “because it was made a crime”, the cases of domestic violence dropped from 814,000 in 1997 to 407,000 in 2006-07.

On the subject of “honour” violence, the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali asked: “Can you assure us that there is effective policing in all areas of the UK so that women exposed to violence are adequately protected?”

Lord West replied: “At times there has been nervousness that this might step across cultural or religious divides but there are no cultures or religions that condone so-called honour-based violence.”

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