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This article considers the enforcement of forced marriage protection orders, in the light of the decision of the Bedfordshire Police Constabulary v RU and Another  EWHC 2350 (Fam). In this particular case a young girl had successfully applied for a forced marriage protection order, which, inter alia, forbad her mother from organising a wedding. Despite this, the girl's mother and aunt arranged a marriage and as a result, the police applied for committal for contempt of court. Because they had not made the initial application, the High Court declared that the police were not able to apply for committal. This constitutes a flaw in the scheme of forced marriage protection, for a young, vulnerable person who has obtained a forced marriage protection order may be unwilling to initiate proceedings to enforce it, due to parental pressure or fear that his or her relatives will be imprisoned. The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill 2013-14 contains provisions that will remedy this particular defect, but it also proposes to criminalise forcing someone to marry, which may deter victims or potential victims from utilising civil remedies in the first place.
By Ruth Gaffney-Rhys, Reader in Law, Newport Business School, University of Wales, Newport
The full version of this article appears in the March 2014 issue of International Family Law.
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