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UK crackdown on teenage foreign brides

The rules for people bringing in spouses to the Britain from overseas are to change in an attempt to tackle forced marriages, reports Vijay Dutt.

world Updated: Jul 25, 2008 00:25 IST
Vijay Dutt

The rules for people bringing in spouses to the Britain from overseas are to change in an attempt to tackle forced marriages.

The age limit will be raised from 18 to 21 and the foreign spouse will have to sign an agreement saying they will learn English before coming to the UK.

UK citizens who are going to marry foreigners will also need to register their intention before leaving the UK.

This will mean a young person will know in advance that a marriage will take place overseas and who their prospective partner will be.

Many cases of young girls taken to Pakistan and a few to India were reported wherein the girls had no inkling that they were to be wed while visiting the parents’ original homes.

The new rules compiled in “ Marriage Visas: The Way Forward”, were issued on Wednesday, under which the age at which someone can apply for a marriage visa will increase from 18 to 21. The Home Office spokesman said this was part of a crackdown on forced marriage.

Statistics show that 30 per cent of the cases dealt with by the Government’s Forced Marriage Unit involved victims aged between 18 and 21. Despite the threat of severe punishments and setting up of special anti-forced marriages units, the number of forcible marriages continue to be 1000 a year. The reason for honour killings also stems from this evil practise. The new steps will significantly strengthen the safeguards against forced marriage, hopes the Government .

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said: “Forced marriage leads to victims suffering years of physical and mental abuse and in extreme cases unlawful imprisonment and rape. It has no place in our society.”