The Home Secretary Theresa May will this week unveil plans to crack down on forced marriages, with some commentators anticipating that it is about to be made a criminal offence, after a Home Office consultation looking into the matter concluded at the end of March.
The coalition government has taken a tough line on forced marriages, with David Cameron stating last year that the practice amounted to little more than 'slavery'.
The Home Office launched their consultation looking into whether the practice should be subject to a specific criminal offence last year, after statistics from the Forced Marriage Unit revealed that the practice was on the increase.
The law already protects women from forced marriage through Forced Marriage Protection Orders (FMPOs), which were enacted in the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007.
FMPOs are civil court orders designed to protect individuals from forced marriages by prohibiting harassment, threats and the use of force. If broken they are dealt with as a civil contempt of court, punishable with up to two years' imprisonment.
The announcement on the policy is expected this Friday.
A Home Office spokesperson said: "Forced marriage is an appalling form of abuse and we are determined to tackle it. That's why we have held a consultation on making it a criminal offence and will criminalise the breach of Forced Marriage Protection Orders."
There are concerns that making it an out-and-out criminal offence might deter victims or potential victims from coming forward, for fear of hurting other family members or causing distress.
Marie Staunton is the chief executive of Plan UK.
"Criminalising forced marriage may be necessary but it's not sufficient. Prevention rather than prosecution will avoid needless suffering, early pregnancy and school drop-outs," she told the Associated Press.
May plans forced marriage crackdown (Google, Press Association)
Forced marriages (FindLaw)
Find a family solicitor anywhere in the UK (FindLaw)