Visa age raised to curb forced marriages
THE minimum age at which foreign nationals can receive marriage visas to enter Britain is to be raised from 18 to 21 in an attempt to crack down on forced marriages, writes David Cracknell.
It will mean that about 3,000 people a year, mainly women from India, will be prevented from coming to the UK. Their intended spouse will also have to be at least 21 for them to be allowed into the country.
The government also intends to introduce confidential interviews for people entering the country who might have been forced into marriage.
Tony Blair will make the announcement as he publishes a 10-year plan this week on crime, security and justice — part of his “legacy” package that he hopes will bind his successor.
The move to raise the minimum age comes after a long campaign by Ann Cryer, Labour MP for Keighley. The government has previously raised the minimum age requirement from 16 to 18, but will now go further.
In Denmark, where the age requirement was raised in 2002 to 24, there was a 27% drop in the number of applications for family reunification in the first six months.
Blair said in December: “We stand emphatically at all times for equality of respect and treatment for all citizens. Sometimes the cultural practice of one group contradicts this . . . A good example is forced marriage. There can be no defence of forced marriage on cultural or any other grounds.”
A Downing Street source said: “The new proposals will take this further, by raising the minimum age of the spouse and sponsor from 18 to 21. This will give more protection against forced marriage, by giving people a greater chance to finish higher education, become more independent, and be able to assert their wishes.”
According to government sources, 18% of marriage visas — 3,000 — issued to people from the Indian sub-continent in 2005 were to people under 21.
The Metropolitan police have called for forced marriage to be made a criminal offence, suggesting a link between the practice and “honour” killings and arguing that it would make prosecutions easier. However, the government has rejected this.
Last year Blair signalled his support for a bill making forced marriage a civil offence, which would mean that victims could sue for damages rather than the offenders being sent to jail.
Blair will also announce this week plans to boost police powers to seize criminal assets. Currently the police can seize cash if they believe it amounts to the proceeds of crime, but not other goods that have been bought with the money.
The policy review will propose allowing police to take goods to the value of £100,000, including “bling” jewellery, plasma television sets and laptops bought by criminals.
Yes we as Muslims agree that forced mariages are haram and don't emanate from the Islamic culture and neither is love marriage Islamic either. Islam has its own unique method for marriage which has been discussed in detail in many articles and talks.
The quote below explains the real motives of why the Government is concerned with forced marriages whose stats are only 5% of the number of women raped in Britain yearly.
" A Downing Street source said: “The new proposals will take this further, by raising the minimum age of the spouse and sponsor from 18 to 21. This will give more protection against forced marriage, by giving people a greater chance to finish higher education, become more independent, and be able to assert their wishes.”
Many Muslims choose to marry young because it is a protection from zina and committing haram and also fulfills half of ones deen.
So what effect will this policy have upon Muslims and will it benefit our community? InshAllah please add your views.