UK News 24 – LBR.
LONDON – Many Muslim girls living in the United Kingdom have been marrying via Skype to foreigners hoping to get a spousal visa to England.
Despite the British ban on forced marriage, Muslim girls up to 11 years old are participating in marriage ceremonies held by imams before “being put on a plane and consummating the marriage at the earliest opportunity,” according to the charity Freedom.
After the Skype marriage, the husband abroad waits for the girl to visit to get pregnant to make for easier access to England.
“The reason is to curb the behavior of their children when they become ‘too western’,” Freedom founder Aneeta Prem told “The Sunday Times”.
“Once married, there is enormous pressure to get a spouse visa. The hope is the girl will visit (country of husband’s origin) and fall pregnant to make the union seem more legitimate before bringing the partner back,” she said.
The topic prompted public outcry following the Skype marriage of an 11-year-old British girl to a Bangladeshi man 14 years her senior.
The home-educated girl reached out to the charity foundation in November, 2015 after realizing the Skype call was actually a marriage ceremony thanks to a book about forced marriage her brother had been given at school.
“She hadn’t understood at the time but later realised the Skype call was a marriage ceremony. The plan was for her to meet her ‘husband’ at a later date and hopefully fall pregnant,” said Prem, the author of ‘But It’s Not Fair’ — an account of forced marriage.
“We see cases from many communities including those from Hindu, Sikh, Jewish, and Mormon backgrounds. No religion accepts forced marriage but some parents are using it as a method of control,” she added.
Forced marriage was prohibited in England, Wales and Scotland in 2014, since when there has only been one registered case which involved adults.
The British national charity Karma Nirvana, known for regular free workshops to raise awareness about forced marriage, said that last November and December, 14 schools reported 38 cases of forced marriage, with 11 referrals from one school in Birmingham just after the charity’s presentation.
The British Department of Education responded to the issue while saying: “We trust teachers to know what their pupils will benefit from most, rather than prescribing a one-size-fits-all approach”.