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British visas for married women only at 21

UK will raise minimum age at which foreigners can receive marriage visas, reports Vijay Dutt.

india Updated: Mar 26, 2007 17:11 IST
Vijay Dutt
Vijay Dutt

In a bid to curb young women married against their will from being brought into the country, Britain intends to raise the minimum age at which foreign nationals can receive marriage visas from 18 to 21, The Times of London reported on Sunday.

The government had earlier raised the minimum age from 16 years to 18, but now intends to go further.

It is estimated that once the law is passed, around 3,000 people a year — mostly women from the Indian subcontinent — will be prevented from entering.

Their husbands will also have to be at least 21 for them to be allowed in.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair is expected to announce this step as part of a 10-year plan on crime, security and justice which will be unveiled later this week.

The government will also introduce confidential interviews — before the visa is granted — of those it suspects might have been forced into marriage.

The step follows a prolonged campaign by Ann Cryer, Labour MP from Keighley. A Downing Street source said the new proposal would 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".

Last December, Blair had said, "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."

First Published: Mar 26, 2007 02:52 IST