LONDON: Minor Muslim girls in the UK as young as 11 are being forced to marry men living abroad via the internet notwithstanding a ban on forced marriage in the country.
Imams in the UK and abroad have been conducting ceremonies using Skype — so girls can be married remotely before « being put on a plane and consummating the marriage at the earliest opportunity », according to Freedom, a charity.
The marriage is often conducted with the promise of a visa to the UK for their new husband, it said.
« The reason is to curb the behaviour of their children when they become ‘too western’, » charity founder Aneeta Prem was quoted as saying by ‘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.
In one case, an 11-year-old home-educated girl from London was married on Skype to a 25-year-old man in Bangladesh.
She contacted Freedom in November after reading a book about forced marriage that her older brother was 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.
In the meantime, she was at home learning to cook and clean, » 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 made illegal in England, Wales and Scotland in 2014 but there has been only one conviction and it did not involve a child.
Karma Nirvana, a charity that runs free workshops to raise awareness of forced marriage, said in a two-month period at the end of last year it had received 38 referrals from 14 schools, including 11 from one school in Birmingham made the day after it gave a presentation.
The UK Department of Education said: « We trust teachers to know what their pupils will benefit from most, rather than prescribing a one-size-fits-all approach ».
Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.newindianexpress.com