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Scottish government urged to reconsider criminalisation of forced marriage

Support groups see drop in referrals since the legislation

Herald Scotland reports that the criminalisation of forced marriage in Scotland, bringing the law north of the border in line with that of England and Wales, has resulted in fewer victims coming forward for support.

Consequently, women's aid charities are calling on ministers to reconsider the change in criminal law.

Freedom of information requests show that no person has been charged or prosecuted for an offence under the Scottish legislation in its first year.

Women's support groups report that there has been a fall in referrals to them since the legislation which came into force in Scotland on 30 September 2014.

In England and Wales the corresponding legislation came into effect on 16 June 2014. The first successful conviction was reported in June 2015.

Herald Scotland reports Dr Marsha Scott, chief executive of Scottish Women's Aid, saying:

"Scottish Women's Aid has from the beginning opposed the criminalisation approach in the new legislation, given our conviction that it would make disclosure and engagement with support and intervention services even less accessible and attractive for women and young people.

"We therefore are sorry to say we told you so but are not surprised to see a decrease in reports and no prosecutions.

"These figures suggest that the criminalisation of forced marriage has further deterred vulnerable women from coming forward.

"We would call on the Scottish Government to reconsider this legislation, with meaningful consultation with experts working in the field."

The Herald Scotland report, including the Scottish government's response, is here.