London, July 24 : The British Government has decided to impose visa curbs on foreign brides and bridegrooms to prevent forced marriages in the country.
The measures introduced on Wednesday will hit 17,000 spouses and fiance (e)s from the sub-continent the hardest.
According to a report in The Times, teenage foreign brides and bridegrooms will have to be at least 21 years of age to enter the country as a spouse.
British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, was quoted by the paper as saying that: "Forced marriage leads to victims suffering years of physical and mental abuse and in extreme cases unlawful imprisonment and rape. It has no place in our society."
"The Government is determined to do everything it can to stamp it out and to ensure that victims receive the help and support they need," she added.
This ruling will be implemented by the end of the year.
A total of 47,000 people entered Britain in 2006 as a spouse or fiance (e), more than double the number a decade earlier.
The forced marriage unit at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office deals with about 5,000 calls a year and an estimated 400 cases of forced marriage. But these figures are thought to underestimate the scale of the problem.
Yesterday's package is an attempt to tackle forced marriage as well as giving greater protection to youngsters who may be facing an arranged marriage following emotional pressure.