New legislation could help stop instances of forced marriage in Scotland, a Muslim group has said.
The Scottish-Islamic Foundation said civil powers in England allowed the courts to step in and help people.
Osama Saeed, the foundation chairman, has suggested legal sanctions in Scotland could act as a deterrent.
Mr Saeed urged a debate on the issue and said that under Islam it was clear that for a marriage to be valid both parties had to consent to it.
He described forced marriages as being an “injustice perpetrated in many cases by people who happen to be Muslim and who originate from certain parts of the world where this does happen”.
While he argued the number of forced marriages in this country was decreasing as attitudes changed, he said “effective legislation” would speed up this process.
Mr Saeed said: “I do wonder why offences such as rape have not been used to prosecute to date.”
But he added: “Creating new legislation now though, to deal with the incidents of forced marriage that do exist, will act as a deterrent and send out a strong message that this violation of human rights will not be tolerated.
“There should be a debate about this in Scotland. I don’t see why criminality can’t be an option on the table, with it being left to the victim whether or not to press charges, but if not still get the help they need.”
Source: BBC News – 24 March 2008