A new law has come into power in Scotland to protect people against forced marriages. The legislation provides courts with the power to hand out protection orders to individuals defined as being “at risk”. In the event that these orders are breached, a two-year jail term could be imposed. Victims of forced marriages are also set to receive greater help and existing laws to annul forced marriages have been strengthened. The Forced Marriage (Protection and Jurisdiction) (Scotland) Act 2011 provides people with greater protection against forced marriages in comparison to legislation elsewhere in the UK. Courts are able to issue protection orders tailored to an individual's requirements.
Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's Health Secretary, claimed that people should be free to enter into a marriage or civil partnership in the absence of coercion. Smina Akhtar, the director of Amina, a Glasgow-based Muslim Women's Resource Centre, said that the law meant that victims of forced marriage would no longer have to suffer in silence. The Law Society of Scotland has welcomed the legislation. However, it has cautioned that education must accompany the legislation to ensure that the number of victims of forced marriages is reduced.
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