New law to stop forced marriage is enacted
Forced marriage is "a tragedy for each and every victim", Home Secretary Theresa May said as new legislation outlawing the practice came into effect.
From today, forcing someone into marriage in England and Wales will carry a maximum seven-year jail sentence under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.
The government hopes the law change, which also criminalises forcing a British national into marriage outside the UK, will protect thousands of potential victims.
Mrs May said she was "proud" of the UK's role as a "world leader" in combating the crime, saying: "Forced marriage is a tragedy for each and every victim, and its very nature means that many cases go unreported.
"I am proud to say that the UK is already a world-leader in the fight to stamp out this harmful practice."
The change in law was originally announced in 2012 by Prime Minister David Cameron, who said that forced marriage was "abhorrent" and "little more than slavery".