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'Forced marriage to become criminal offence'
Forcing someone to marry against their will is to be made a criminal offence in England and Wales, it has been confirmed.
Victims and charities have campaigned for years to highlight the extent of the problem and how often it goes unreported and unpunished.
Prime Minister David Cameron has now branded the practice "abhorrent and is little more than slavery".
But survivors warn that criminalising the secretive world of forced marriages will not do anything to stop it.
Figures from the Home Office Forced Marriage Unit show 1,468 cases were recorded in 2011.
However, experts say that is a tiny fraction of the actual numbers in the UK.
Statistics for 2012 also illustrate that more than half of the people involved in suspected cases of forced marriage originate from south Asia: Pakistan (46%), Bangladesh (9.2%), UK (8.7%) and India (7.2%).
The Government will spend more than half a million pounds over the next three years in moves to identify sooner, that victims can be better supported and in some cases rescued and repatriated from overseas.
Mr Cameron said: "I have listened to concerns that criminalisation could force this most distressing issue underground.
"That is why we have a new comprehensive package to identify possible victims, support those who have suffered first-hand and, indeed, prevent criminality wherever possible."
The shadow equalities minister, Kate Green, said the law should be strengthened to build on the work already done to stop forced marriage. "The government needs to work with experts to get the detail right and also to make sure that cuts to refuges or legal aid don't undermine the support victims need in practice," she said.