UK & World News
'Abhorrent' Forced Marriages To Be Outlawed
Forcing someone to marry against their will is to be made a criminal offence in England and Wales, it has been confirmed.
Victims and charities have campaigned for years to highlight the extent of the problem and how often it goes unreported and unpunished.
Prime Minister David Cameron has now branded the practice "abhorrent and is little more than slavery".
But survivors warn that criminalising the secretive world of forced marriages will not do anything to stop it.
Sameem Ali was pulled out of school at the age of 13 and sent to Pakistan to marry a stranger.
Two months later she returned to the UK pregnant.
Ms Ali, now in her 40s and the author of a book about her experiences, told Sky News: "Forced marriage does not happen overnight.
"I was taken out of school... and the school did not ask any questions.
"I was brought back to this country at the age of 14, pregnant. I gave birth to a baby in this country, in hospital. Where were the questions?"
A 22-year-old man from the West Midlands, who asked not to be named, told Sky News how he was 15 when his parents secretly arranged his engagement.
"It is really hard for guys to speak about it," he said.
"You can't talk to your mates. I eventually went to a lecturer for help.
"Of course it is often horrendous for girls, but it affects men too."
Figures from the Home Office Forced Marriage Unit show 1,468 cases were recorded in 2011.
However, that is thought to be a tiny fraction of the actual numbers in the UK.
Statistics for 2012 also illustrate that more than half of the people involved in suspected cases of forced marriage originate from south Asia: Pakistan (46%), Bangladesh (9.2%), UK (8.7%) and India (7.2%).
The Government will spend more than half a million pounds over the next three years in moves to identify sooner, that victims can be better supported and in some cases rescued and repatriated from overseas.
Mr Cameron said: "I have listened to concerns that criminalisation could force this most distressing issue underground.
"That is why we have a new comprehensive package to identify possible victims, support those who have suffered first-hand and, indeed, prevent criminality wherever possible."