The UK Border Agency (UKBA) does not seem to be aware of its own policy on forced marriage.
In June the prime minister announced a new initiative to tackle the menace of forced marriage setting out the government’s intention to create specific criminal offences for perpetrators and to devote half a million pounds to an awareness campaign of the risks of forced marriage abroad. The UKBA’s website carries information about the possibility of obtaining a forced marriage protection order for girls and women threatened with forced marriage.
A pity, then, that UKBA staff appear not to have read their own guidance. In August, a solicitor had to threaten to take the UKBA to court for a forced marriage protection order on behalf of a 14-year-old girl who faced forced marriage in Pakistan. It was not her family who were trying to send her there, but UKBA – on the basis that she was an overstayer. Only the threat of legal action persuaded the Home Office to back down and allow the girl to stay.