News & Events
Feds set to make forced marriage a crime in Canada, but the practice is nothing new
Bill S-7, short titled "Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act," aims to make forced marriage a criminal offence. If the bill passes anyone who forces someone to marry against their will could be convicted of a criminal offence and sentenced to up to five years in prison. The new law would also make 16 the minimum age for someone to marry.
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander is the lead on Bill S-7. He said if the law changes, anyone who officiates, aids and/or participates in a forced marriage will be committing a crime.
"It is barbaric. It is not acceptable in Canada and we want to send that message very clearly inside the country and to those thinking of coming here," said Alexander.
Bill S-7 is expected to pass this summer. But some critics say the legislation is not dealing with the real issue, but rather targeting certain ethnic and religious communities in Canada.
"I find it very offensive," said Shalini Konanur, the executive director of the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario, a legal aid clinic that handles forced marriage cases.
"I think Bill S-7 was targeted at South Asian communities, African communities, certain religious communities that the federal government has said maybe have been 'anti-woman'."