The parents of 16-year-old Samiya, a resident of Birmingham, were so enraged when they found she had a boyfriend that they flew her to Pakistan and immediately got her married. “My dad was standing behind me with one hand on my shoulder and in the other he held a gun which was poking into my back,” Saamiya said. After her return to Britain, she complained and was rescued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Forced Marriage Unit.
Another 15 year old girl from Pakistan underwent a 'telephone marriage' with a man in Sheffield she had never met. Arriving in Britain she found he was 40, unemployed and disabled. The groom's family sought to use her as a prostitute.
These are just two of the numerous examples cited by a new report documenting the pitfalls women from the subcontinent who marry non residents grooms have encountered. Called Crimes of the Community, it was prepared by the Centre for Social Cohesion, a branch of Civitas, a right wing think tank. It takes a comprehensive look at 'honour killings', violence and numerous forms of exploitation that South Asian brides arriving in Britain to join their grooms, have to live with.
The report found that women had been beaten up for nothing more than listening to western music, that families have brought in brides to make them work as prostitutes and that local authorities were often reluctant to act against such families for fear of being accused of racism.
The report has found that such instances occur in all South Asian communities — Muslim, Sikh and Hindu, even among second-generation immigrants. But Islamic traditionalists were the prime offenders.