B Explanatory memorandum by Mr Michael
1. At the national level, states
have a duty to help victims through early intervention and information
for victims or potential victims, as well as prevention measures
targeted at younger women and their families. There is a need to
develop training programmes for involved parties, such as the police,
magistrates and social workers. The rapporteur underlines cases
of good practices developed in certain Council of Europe member states,
the experience of which should be made available to other member
states to develop effective measures.
2. In 2005 the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) was launched in the
United Kingdom. It is dedicated to preventing British nationals
being forced into marriage overseas. Anyone who fears that they,
or someone they know, may be forced into a marriage overseas is
advised to contact the FMU, on a confidential basis.
3. The Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007 came into
force in autumn 2008. The aim of the act is to provide civil remedies
for those faced with forced marriage and victims of forced marriage.
Hopes have been expressed that the approach of the act, in using
civil rather than criminal law provisions, will encourage victims to
seek protection because it would not involve reporting family members
to the police. Under the act, a person who is being forced into
marriage or has been forced into marriage may apply to the court
for a forced marriage protection order.
4. Contrary to the act, I do agree with Ms Antigoni Papadopoulos
that criminal conviction is required. However, taking into account
the complexity and sensitivity of this problem, less drastic measures
could prove more effective.
5. The government has consulted on migration measures designed
to combat forced marriage, including, as it was rightly stressed
by Ms Antigoni Papadopoulos in her report, raising the minimum age
of the spouse and sponsor for a marriage visa from 18 to 21 and
the introduction of an English language test before entry for spouses
who intend to settle in the United Kingdom.
6. The Home Affairs Committee in the United Kingdom Parliament
has conducted an inquiry into domestic violence including issues
of forced marriages and so-called “honour killings”. The government
has also outlined the steps being taken to protect children in relation
to forced marriage.
7. I encourage the member states of the Council of Europe to
promote similar legislation in their countries and also the importance
of international co-operation to tackle violations which take place
in a third country. In this context, consulates have the duty to
develop networks with the authorities in the country and local non-governmental
organisations. Consular staff require training to become more aware
During discussion in the committee, members stressed the following
points (and I fully endorse them):
- the importance of recognising the role and responsibility
of the in-country local communities, in particular to do away with
the “plague” of ancient practices, such as female circumcision;
- the need for properly funded social and health services
and properly qualified social workers in dealing with gender-based
human rights violations, including the abduction of women and girls.
9. The rapporteur outlines a series of detailed measures to be
taken by every Council of Europe member state. I congratulate the
rapporteur on the thoroughness of her work and the range of actions
that are suggested.
Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men.
Committee for opinion:
Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee.
Reference to committee:
Reference No. 3200 of 26 January 2009.
Opinion approved by
the committee on 27 April 2009.
Secretariat of the committee: Mr Mezei, Ms Arzilli.