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Following the government's announcement that forced marriage will become a criminal offence in England and Wales, this article provides a critical overview of the legal remedies introduced in other European countries. Although forced marriage is contrary to the law in all EU member states, their legal approaches vary. Some European countries rely on international treaties, whilst others have implemented civil legislation and/or criminal offences. This article reviews the different criminal offences of forced marriage implemented in seven European countries. It also explores, the following disparities in the way in which a criminal offence of forced marriage has been drafted in each country: the definition of forced marriage, the provisions for prosecution, sentence imposed for committing such an offence and the extra-territorial nature of an offence. The author concludes by arguing that forced marriage can only be dealt with and, ultimately, eradicated if legislation is effectively drafted across Europe to ensure it is enforceable.
By Charlotte Rachael Proudman, Barrister
This article appeared appears in the November 2012 issue of International Family Law.
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