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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 September 2006, 11:59 GMT 12:59 UK
Reid in UK forced marriage pledge
John Reid
Forced marriages should not be allowed in the UK, Mr Reid said

Forced marriages in the UK breach "fundamental human rights" and will receive renewed attention from the government, the home secretary says.

"Men and women are equal in all respects in this country and will be treated as such," John Reid told the Labour party conference.

The Home Office said in June there was no need to outlaw the practice.

Mr Reid also pledged to continue tackling domestic violence, which he claimed affected a quarter of women.

"We're beginning to climb the foothills in changing that," Mr Reid said.

Some 300 forced marriages are reported in the UK annually.

Young women are pressured into marrying men in the majority of cases, but it is the other way round at least 15% of the time.

The process is different from "arranged" marriages, which is popular among South Asian communities, where both bride and groom consent to a wedding taking place.

Mr Reid did not elaborate on how he would tackle the practice but said there was no question that people living in the UK should be protected from it.


Earlier this year, members of the public expressed fears during a Home Office consultation that a change in the law may not work.

They said forced marriages could still take place as a result, but away from the public eye.

Young people would also be unwilling to report their parents in case this resulted in a criminal prosecution, they told researchers.

The Home Office has already lodged a number of recommendations to stop the practice.

It has called for better training for those dealing with the issue and greater engagement with communities where forced marriages take place.

Better use of existing legal and civil options, including family courts and mediation, were also needed, the department said in June.



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