Page last updated at 15:16 GMT, Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Forced marriage law helps woman

Forced Marriage Unit poster
It is only the seventh time the law has been used

A woman whose father wanted her to take part in a forced marriage has been helped by police using new laws.

The 22-year-old Asian woman, from Lancashire, contacted police for help when her father threatened to take her to Pakistan for the marriage ceremony.

Officers applied for a Forced Marriage Protection Order on her behalf, to prevent her from being taken abroad.

The order, granted at Blackburn County Court, was only the seventh to be passed since the law was introduced.

It was the first time it has ever been used in Lancashire.

Police said if any of the terms of the order are broken, the woman's father will be arrested immediately.

Support victims

Laws to prevent forced marriages were introduced in England, Wales and Northern Ireland last November.

It means anyone convicted of trying to force someone into marriage can be jailed for up to two years.

A victim, friend or police can also apply for a Forced Marriage Protection Order, which forbids families from actions such as taking people abroad for marriage, seizing passports or intimidating victims.

In this case, the woman continues to live with her immediate family but now has the protection of the order to prevent an unwanted marriage.

Det Ch Insp Justin Srivastava, from Lancashire Constabulary' s Public Protection Unit, said: "Thanks to this new legislation, which has taken a number of years to formalise, this young woman can continue to lead a normal life without fear of being taken abroad against her will."

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