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Arranged marriages create 'walls'

The practice of British Asians bringing in Indian spouses is helping to perpetuate ghettos.

india Updated: Sep 26, 2005 16:39 IST

The number of British Asians bringing in spouses from the Indian subcontinent has doubled over five years, prompting warnings that the practice is helping to perpetuate ghettos, media reported on Sunday.

Instead of integrating over successive generations by marrying in the UK, some Asian communities, particularly from Pakistan and Bangladesh, are fuelling segregation through arranged marriages to overseas partners, The Sunday Times claimed, citing a report by Migration Watch UK, an independent think tank.

The Migration Watch report revealed that the number of spouses and fiances from the Indian subcontinent doubled between 1996 and 2001, when 22,000 were granted entry into Britain.

It is estimated that 60 per cent of Pakistani and Bangladeshi marriages in Bradford in 2001 involved a spouse from the sub-continent. Almost a third of all children born in Bradford now have foreign mothers. In the London borough of Tower Hamlets the figure is 68 per cent.

Last week Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, warned of "walls going up" around some Asian and black communities living in ghettos, which he defined as districts where two-thirds of residents belong to a single ethnic minority. Phillips said the number of people of Pakistani origin living in ghettos had trebled between 1991 and 2001.

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migration Watch, said: "If Phillip's warning that we are sleepwalking into racial segregation is not to be realised, we must face up to an issue that is one of the root causes of this problem."