Apr 18 2012 By Ben Spencer
Nicola Sturgeon Forced Marriage Image 1
THE first legal order has been issued to protect a victim of forced marriage, it was revealed this week.
Laws came into force last November giving courts the power to issue protection orders, which if breached can lead to a two-year jail sentence.
It is a criminal offence to breach such an order and, as well as facing prison, offenders can also be fined.
On Monday, it was confirmed the first protection order had been issued as Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon visited Cardonald College to back a campaign that uses a wedding dress to raise awareness of the laws.
The Forced Marriage (Protection and Jurisdiction) (Scotland) Act was the first UK law to make it an offence to breach a protection order.
And Sturgeon warned that anyone who did so would “feel the full force of the law”.
She said: “All people in Scotland who are eligible to marry or enter into a civil partnership should have the right to do so without coercion.
“Scotland is leading the way in this legislation in ensuring that anyone who breaches a protection order – and anyone aiding or abetting them – will feel the full force of the law.”
Sturgeon said those who refused a forced marriage were “often subjected to threats, assault, captivity or worse”.
Since the legislation came into effect, about 50 people have been assisted by the Scottish forced marriage and domestic abuse helpline - significantly more than before the law was introduced.
A display, including a wedding dress decorated with messages of support from men and women with experience of forced marriage, has been touring colleges in Scotland to raise awareness of the legislation.
The dress, created by Glasgow-based Anjali’s Boutique, also includes words of support from agencies who provide help to those affected.