monday, 6 august of 2018


Home secretary vows to take action over forced marriages

Sajid Javid has vowed to do more to combat forced marriages, saying the practice had no place in British society, after charities warned that the Home Office has failed to protect British women and teenage girls forced into abusive marriages by granting their foreign husbands visas.

The home secretary said forced marriage was a “despicable, inhumane, uncivilised practice that has no place whatsoever in Britain”. He added: “We will be doing more to combat it and support victims.

“Those who force British women into marriage, be warned that we are redoubling our efforts to make sure you pay for your crimes.”

His comments came after data obtained by the Times revealed that officials dealt with nearly 90 cases of victims trying to block visas last year, although almost half were still issued.

Women and girls are being physically and sexually abused by the men whose cases go unchallenged by authorities, charities say. One group said some immigration officials were “turning a blind eye” amid concerns over cultural or religious sensitivities. A Home Office source says it “categorically denies” the allegation.

Figures released under freedom of information laws showed the Home Office had received 175 inquiries about victims trying to block spouses’ visas last year. Of these, 88 became full cases, which included direct requests from victims known as “reluctant sponsors”, requests from third parties or instances where an official suspected a forced marriage.

The women had been forced to marry men in countries including Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and the United Arab Emirates. Visas were still issued in 42 cases, while in 10 more the decision is still pending or an appeal is being heard.

Karma Nirvana, a support charity for victims of forced marriage, said it was being alerted to cases nationally. Its founder, Jasvinder Sanghera, told the Times: “Even when officials know it’s a forced marriage, they see tradition, culture or religion and they’re reticent to deal with it. They are turning a blind eye.

Laws making it illegal to force someone into marriage in England and Wales were introduced in 2014. Anyone found guilty of doing so can be jailed for up to seven years. Police were also given powers to issue forced marriage protection orders to help protect victims, breaches of which are punishable by up to five years in prison.

The shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, said: “The government has been too slow to act on preventing domestic abusers being granted visas through marriage. It also has no idea of the scale of the problem.

“Government immigration policy means that people in the system are routinely disregarded. But not listening to vulnerable women can have terrible consequences and lead to a life of abuse. Immigration applicants must be heard, and the government must act decisively on this issue.”

(Published by The Guardian, Aug 03, 2018)

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