London: Families, including from Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and east Africa, who forced their children to marry against their will could face jail under strict laws that will be unveiled by UK`s Home Secretary Theresa May.
The Home Secretary has promised a sweeping crackdown after warning that up to 8,000 young women a year are forced to marry without their consent, The Daily Mail reports. Prime Minister David Cameron said that forced marriage, which involves families from Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and east Africa, is ``little more than slavery`` and ``completely wrong``.
Last year, 1,468 forced marriages were investigated by the authorities, but experts believe the total is as high as 8,000 a year. A government source said: "Some of those who oppose the criminalisation of forced marriage argue that it could disempower victims, as they might want a non-criminal resolution of their case and reconciliation with their family".
Conservative Chairman Baroness Warsi said there were cases where children were drugged and taken overseas, where they were married off "The new law will be accompanied by a range of measures to increase protection and support for victims, as well as maintaining a focus on prevention," Warsi added.
The cross-party Commons Home Affairs Committee had called for forced marriage to be criminalised, but ministers are considering how to proceed without discouraging victims from coming forward.