Forced marriage protection – for whom?

Forced marriage protection – for whom?


Written by: Frances Webber

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.

The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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