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Archived - Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act receives Royal Assent

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Legislation protects vulnerable immigrant women and girls

June 18, 2015 — Ottawa — Legislation strengthening laws to prevent barbaric cultural practices from occurring on Canadian soil received Royal Assent today.

Tabled in the Senate on November 5, 2014 as Bill S-7, the Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act (the Act) provides improved protection and support for vulnerable individuals—primarily immigrant women and girls—including:

  • Creating a new measure under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) that will render permanent residents and temporary residents inadmissible to Canada if they practice polygamy;
  • Strengthening the Civil Marriage Act by codifying existing legal requirements at the national level for “free and enlightened consent” and establishing a new national absolute minimum age of 16 for marriage;
  • Criminalizing certain conduct related to early and forced marriage ceremonies, including the act of removing a child from Canada for the purpose of such marriages; and
  • Limiting the defence of provocation so that it would not apply in so-called “honour” killings and many spousal homicides. A new court-ordered peace bond will also be created to protect potential victims of early or forced marriages where there are grounds to fear that a person may commit a forced or early marriage offence.

The Civil Marriage Act amendments are now in effect, as they also came into force upon Royal Assent.

The successful passage of this piece of legislation reaffirms the Government of Canada’s ongoing efforts to end violence against women, and girls and sends a clear message that any form of harmful cultural practices is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in Canada.

Quick facts

  • In 2014, Canada contributed $20 million over two years to UNICEF toward ending child, early and forced marriage. The UNICEF project aims to accelerate the movement to end child marriage in Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Somalia and Zimbabwe.
  • Consular services are available 24 hours a day to Canadian victims of forced marriage abroad.
  • Since 2007, over $2.8 million has been approved through Status of Women Canada for community-based projects that address harmful cultural practices such as “honour”-based violence and forced marriage.


“Despite our best efforts and intentions, the reality is that some immigrant women can and do face violence or abuse. With the Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act, we are sending a strong message to those in Canada, and those who wish to come to Canada, that we will not accept the practice of cultural traditions that deprive individuals of their human rights. Our fair and generous immigration system will not extend to those who would carry out barbaric cultural practices on Canadian soil.”

Chris Alexander, Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister

“Our Government is committed to ensuring that women and girls have the freedom to control their own destiny. In Canada, we value cultural diversity, but we are sending a strong signal that certain cultural practices that victimize vulnerable women and girls, including forced marriages and so-called “honour” killings, will not be tolerated in this country. I am pleased that our legislation is standing up for victims and gives us more tools to address these serious crimes, to provide women and girls a more secure future.”

Peter MacKay, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Related product

News Release – Protecting Canadians from Barbaric Cultural Practices

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Minister’s Office
Citizenship and Immigration Canada

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Citizenship and Immigration Canada

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Building a stronger Canada: Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) strengthens Canada’s economic, social and cultural prosperity, helping ensure Canadian safety and security while managing one of the largest and most generous immigration programs in the world.

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