The process of approving the law in Canada against "barbaric cultural practices" has been completed and it became effective on Thursday, according to the Toronto-based CIJnews.
The law was passed on to the Senate on November 5, 2015 under the name "Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act," with the aim to provide better protection for immigrants deemed at greater risk of physical injury, primarily women and girls who had immigrated to Canada.
As part of this, new immigrants married to more than one wife or who were convicted of crimes against women in their home countries will not be allowed to emigrate to Canadian soil, and immigrants currently in the country may be extradited to their home countries even without a previous conviction if found guilty of bigamy, the law stated.
Civil marriage shall be determined by law, it added, and second marriages shall be considered valid only with the free consent of both spouses in the event of remarriage after a civil divorce.
The laws also stipulate, clearly, that 16 is the minimum age for marriage and that the marriage of any two citizens between the ages of 16-18 can only be finalized with parental consent from both sides.
Forced marriages are now a criminal act, and all parties – including parents, any religious officials, and any other authority involved in the union – could now be tried, convicted, and sentenced to up to 5 years' prison time.
That ban will now also include taking children under 16 to foreign nations for the express purpose of forced marriage – an all-too-common trend in immigrant Muslim communities across the globe which may be increasing, according to a recent documentary on the subject in Vice News.
Changes have also been made to the current Criminal Code regarding "honor killings," as well.
"Despite the best efforts and intentions, the reality is that women migrants could cope with violence and abuse," Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Chris Alexander stated Thursday.
"Through the Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act, we convey a firm message to those in Canada and those who want to come to Canada that we cannot allow a cultural tradition which deprives people of their rights."