The Government has launched a consultation on the criminalisation of forced marriage - at present there is no specific offence of 'Forced Marriage'.
The consultation is seeking views on whether a pecific criminal offence would help to combat forced marriage and better protect victims. It will run for 12 weeks and close on 30 March 2012.
This follows the announcement on 10 October 2011 by the Prime Minister David Cameron, that the Government would criminalise the breach of Forced Marriage Prevention Orders.
These orders block forced marriages from going ahead and protect potential victims. Although many cases of forced marriage go unreported:
The Government's Forced Marriage Unit gave advice or support on 1,735 instances in 2010 alone
The youngest victim of forced marriage was just 12 years old, and the oldest 73.
In 2010 the Forced Marriage Unit gave active assistance to 469 cases across the country.
Commenting Home Secretary Theresa May said: 'Marriage should be one of the happiest events in a person's life, but shockingly thousands of people a year are forced into marriage against their will. It is an appalling form of abuse and perceived cultural sensitivities should not stop us doing more to tackle it.
'There are a wide range of strongly held views on making Forced Marriage a criminal offence and we want to hear from victims and those who work in this field before we come to a decision on the best way to protect vulnerable people.
'But we are determined, working closely with charities and other organisation doing a tremendous amount in this area, to make Forced Marriage a thing of the past.'