It will serve as another example of how our government is failing to listen to survivors and targeting racialized communities for exclusion and deportation from Canada.

The Act would amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), the Civil Marriage Act and the Criminal Code, proposing to criminalize forced marriage and to bar migrants who practice polygamy (or that are suspected may practice polygamy in the future) from entering Canada and potentially remove permanent residents already in Canada who practice polygamy. The Schlifer Clinic has grave concerns about the Act, which would result in the exclusion, deportation and criminalization of families (or of women themselves), which only serves to further harm women experiencing violence:

“SALCO’s 2013 report; “Who if when to marry: A report on incidents of Forced Marriages in Ontario’ strongly recommends against including FM’s as a separate criminal offence under the Criminal Code. Criminalization of FM’s creates barriers for victims who need access to justice. First, victims will be more unlikely to report FM’s because of their internal struggle with placing their family at risk. Second, due to the increased stigma, perpetrators of FM will be more skilled at hiding their attempts at forcing a marriage. The unfortunate result of creating these barriers is that victims will go deeper underground, instead of seeking support”

  No! to Criminalization of Forced Marriage, SALCO

The title of the Act betrays a flawed ideology that locates violence against women as a “cultural” issue which only occurs in some communities, and ignores statistics and women’s lived reality that shocking levels of violence against women occurs every day in Canada across cultures. The Schlifer Clinic is concerned that the proposed Act is not responsive to survivors and furthers marginalization of racialized communities in Canada. The Clinic will follow up this statement with further information and analysis.

To learn more, check out the following resources:

No! to Criminalization of Forced Marriage, SALCO


BILL S-7: An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Civil Marriage Act and the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

Comparative overview of proposed changes in the Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act