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Date: 16 June 2014

Today's Topic: UK Outlaws Forced Marriage

Triggers: BBC News Report

My Grump: About bloody time! Years too late in my view.

UK law banning forced marriage takes effect today, with those found guilty of the largely hidden practice facing up to seven years in prison.

The law applies not only within the UK but also makes it a criminal offence to force a British national into a marriage abroad. Many young people are flown out to weddings in their ancestral homelands, particularly in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. How much time inside do we get for kidnapping and slavery? Because this is essentially what forced marriage is, and I would even include arranged marriage in this category when it's not fully explained what this means to each party and the alternatives available.

See, that's what's missing here. In this country we have a god given right to marry whoever, whenever and wherever we want to. That right should extend to everyone that lives in this country.

This practice has destroyed the lives of thousands of British-born youths and forced marriage has been increasingly exposed in the last decade as cruel and against every sense of freedom and justice that we have come to expect in Britain. That's partly the problem, isn't it? We live in a free society, one in which you as an individual have choices in every aspect of your life, until someone comes along and says you now belong to someone else, to do with as they please. Thanks, but NO THANKS!

Campaigners welcomed the new laws which came into effect today as a "huge step forward", while the government hopes they will protect potential victims into the future. The problem has been that so far few leaders with influence in their communities are prepared to take a stand. We all know this is for fear of losing their support base, but to force a government to pass laws because you won't speak out, means that you are the problem, not any part of the solution. Now you are seen as just inept and complicit in kidnapping and slavery.

It doesn't matter what we are talking about here, whether it's forced marriage, or anything else that puts you at loggerheads with British law, if you don't stand up against it, you ARE THE PROBLEM!

This is about common decency and justice. We mentioned kidnapping and slavery, but what about rape? If you are forced to marry and have sex against your will, that is rape, pure and simple. How many more laws does this practice bring into the relationship? Last year, the government's Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) dealt with some 1,300 cases - 18 percent of which were men. Forty percent of victims were aged 17 or under; three quarters were aged under 22. Officials fear the number of victims coming forward is just the tip of the iceberg. It doesn't take a genius to work that out, does it?

"Forced marriage is a tragedy for each and every victim, and its very nature means that many cases go unreported," said Home Secretary Theresa May. "I am proud to say that the UK is already a world leader in the fight to stamp out this harmful practice with the government's FMU working hard to tackle this terrible practice in the UK and overseas... Today's criminalisation is a further move by this government to ensure victims are protected by the law and that they have the confidence, safety and the freedom to choose."

Other countries with multiple cases reported to the FMU included Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran and Tunisia. Children are even calling ChildLine about this issue. Children as young as 12 are frightened, concerned and feel control of their lives is being taken away.

Perhaps the time has come to deal with the other liberties that are taken from women and taken of women in this multi-cultural country of ours, by certain ethnic communities.

What's the chances of anyone going to jail for this crime?
Pretty slim I'll bet. A bit like female genital mutilation (FGM); anyone ever gone to jail for that bit of ghastly surgery? And how long do they get for 'honour killings' or 'honour disfigurement'? Where's the honour in chucking acid in someone's face? That's got to be the most cowardly thing to do that many of us can even think of. That's not honourable, that's cowardly and weak. Get it right! What you do is dishonourable and an absolute disgrace, to yourself, your family, your religion and society as a whole.

You know, we've had our crusades centuries ago; we had our dark ages and medieval times when we tried to impose our religious views on the world. But we came through those times, we left them behind, we came to realize that diversity was beautiful, and sometimes we got our asses kicked. But eventually we came home to England and the UK, leaving you with your ways and us with ours. We gradually learned that what we did was wrong, and it even took a great lady, Emily, who chained herself to a fence, to teach us that our thoughts about the fairer sex also needed to change. And so we did change, because she opened our eyes to what was right and what was wrong and unjust. Yes, we listened and changed, and it's about time you listened too.

It seems to me, all this suggests you are just going through your middle ages, your dark ages, and this is manifesting in the UK as things like forced marriage, arranged marriage, female genital mutilation, female segregation in schools, female domination in the home, forcing wives to live behind veils as if they don't exist. You want to bring these old outdated traditions into a society that has moved past all that, and you wonder why you don't fit in, and you splutter and mumble on talk shows, talking everyone down, crying rascist to anyone who disagrees with you or points out what they see as wrong.

If only you could see this discrimination and segregation creates weakness in society, not strength.

Please share your thoughts below, thank you.

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