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UK to make forced marriage a criminal offense

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LONDON >> Parents who force their children to marry will face jail under newly proposed laws, Britain’s government said Friday.

The plans to make forced marriage a criminal offense come after officials handled over 2,000 possible cases of people coerced into matrimony since January 2011, the Home Office said.

The majority of the cases involved girls under 21 years old — with some under 15. Many of the families came from Pakistan and Bangladesh, it said in a statement.

“Forced marriage is abhorrent and is little more than slavery,” Prime Minister David Cameron said. “To force anyone into marriage against their will is simply wrong and that is why we have taken decisive action to make it illegal.”

The government hopes to introduce the legislation to Parliament by 2014, the Home Office said. The scale of sentences that could be handed out will be detailed in the legislation.

The move came after a consultation which took views from the public, charities and victims.

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