Edinburgh, Feb.2 : A new law introduced in Scotland features a clause that protects women from being forced into marriage.
In Scots law, there is no specific criminal offence of forced marriage. However, a marriage is considered void if either party can show that they were forced to marry against their will.
Police can intervene prior to a forced wedding, but only where offences are committed in attempting to have the wedding take place, such as threatening behaviour, abduction, imprisonment, physical violence and rape.
Further protection has been given through the Harassment Act of 1997, which allows a non-harassment order to be raised under civil or criminal proceedings in relation to relatives attempting to force a marriage.
The Protection from Abuse (Scotland) Act 2001, gives the police power of arrest where it is believed that an individual may breach a restraining order, reports The Scotsman.
The British government is now proposing a new, more specific, law to give teachers, social workers, women's rights groups and local councils the right to stop forced marriages.
The law would create a list of 'third parties' who would have the authority to go to court to try to prevent families from forcing children into marriage in Britain and abroad.
The plan is aimed at helping those who are too young, too unwilling, or too frightened to go to court to stop their families from marrying them out.
Those who were served with a forced marriage protection order would be required to stop the marriage and stay away from the victim. They may also be required to hand over their passports to the courts.
Breaching the order would be classed as contempt of court and liable to a heavy fine or up to two years in jail.