Last year the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007 was voted through by parliament, and from today this legislation is to be implemented in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This is the first set of laws which have been designed specifically to deal with the issue of forced marriage; among the various clauses are prison sentences of up to two years for individuals trying to force someone into marriage, and the power for victims, friends of victims or the police to apply for a Forced Marriage Protection Order. You can read more about the new legislation in this BBC article.
If you have an interest in this area, it's probably worth taking a look at the website of the Forced Marriage Unit, which is a joint initiative from the Foreign Office and the Home Office. Those who are completely new to the subject should probably begin with a visit to the NHS Forced Marriage Awareness service. Or for a detailed overview of this sensitive topic, the CCInform site has a lengthy article written by Amy Weir (a social worker with 30 years of experience) containing links to relevant reports and case law; for details of how to access CCInform, click here.