Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Explosion of Forced Marriages in the U.K. a Big Problem

"Miss Rawlins, I Need Help"

In 1999 the British Labour Party, in one of those boneheaded acts that the left excels at, made a seemingly minor adjustment to it's immigration policy that doomed many thousands of young girls to death, beatings, and a nightmare life. In January 2000 The Independent reported that thousands of young U.K. Muslim girls were being forced into marriages to foreigners, primarily Pakistanis. Many of these girls were third generation Brits, with only a rudimentary understanding of their new language. The groom was often a cousin, a visa seeker--or something worse. And it is not only her life that is affected. A great number of the reported kidnappings involve U.K. fiances or boyfriends.

Huge Rise In Forced Marriages

"The biggest rise came after the new Labour government, in one of its first measures last year, simplified the procedures for a British person wanting to bring their spouse to settle in Britain. They abandoned the hated "Primary Purpose Rule," which made consular staff rule on whether the main purpose of the marriage was to gain entry into the UK before issuing a visa.

In February last year, before the rules were changed, the High Commission in Islamabad, Pakistan, issued 255 visas to spouses. This year it issued 1,132, nearly five times as many.

Critics say the result is a flourishing trade in forced marriages, with British-born and educated women spirited abroad to lives of misery married to men they have never met. Often, they are virtual prisoners in remote villages.

Those that return to Britain while their new spouses apply for visas - which take about two months to process - often beg the Foreign Office to reject their husband's application.

'We've received 440 such letters in the past year,' said a member of the High Commission in Islamabad. 'More arrive each day. But there's nothing we can do unless the woman is prepared to go public.'"

Some girls, as young as three, are forced
into marriage in some countries, such as Afghanistan.

The U.K. Muslim community and politicians ensured that not only would the immigration policy not be changed, but anyone who challenged it would be labeled a racist, in a fine display of Muslim Grievance Syndrome.

'Jahangir Mohammed, deputy leader of the Muslim Parliament of Great Britain, said: 'There are problems in a tiny minority of marriages and perhaps they are increasing, but to force anyone into a marriage is totally un-Islamic.

'These are difficult times for the Muslim community. We see problems with crime and drugs for the first time, but we believe these are linked to unemployment brought on by racism against Muslims.

'The unemployment rate among Muslim graduates is 60 per cent. That is a much bigger problem to be dealt with.' "

Despite the joy of an Islamic community in Britain that cowed the government into inaction to protect these girls, the problem has only worsened for the women involved.

By 2005, law enforcement authorities in the U.K. received more than 5,000 complaints of which 300 were investigated. Interestingly enough, some of those calling for help--not likely to be forthcoming--were males. It seem Muslim males are no more happy to marry an unknown cousin from a rural Pakistani village; they find the proposition no more palatable than marrying their sister.

But, a male is unlikely to suffer the incredible physical beatings common to females after marriage, as well as the inevitable rape. He only gets beaten up before the marriage, which is sometimes performed at gun point.

"Britain’s Forced Marriage Unit, established in 2005, receives around 5,000 calls and deals with about 300 cases each year—figures that officials fear are just the tip of a very large iceberg."

"The cases typically involve women aged 15-24, forced under extreme physical and emotional duress to marry relatives in a culture and country they were not brought up in, with the threat of being thrown out of the family—or worse—if they do not cooperate.

But what about the plight of young men similarly forced into marriage?

Men account for just 15 percent of the FMU’s cases. Around 30 percent involve minors, including boys, some as young as 10 y
ears old."

And that is where Helen Rawlins steps in.

A diplomat's struggle against forced marriage

Rawlins travels with an armed guard. Dressed in a diplomat's suit, she awaits calls for help. She then, in a two vehicle caravan, travels through all of Pakistan, attempting to rescue child brides, grooms and women with British passports who are being forced into marriage.

The British government views forced marriages, often performed after beatings or threats of violence, as a human rights abuse--far different from arranged marriages to which the bride and groom consent.

It is Rawlins's job to stop them. In an age of increasingly fluid migration, and aided by instant communication, the British diplomat works 3,700 miles from London to help women from her own country."

An actual case:

A 17-year-old girl, born and raised in Scotland, had taken shelter in the British High Commission, as the embassy is known in this former colony.

Rawlins listened as the British official explained the details. The girl said she hadn't realized that her parents had brought her to Pakistan to marry. She wanted to choose her own life. She has a boyfriend back home in Britain.

Her mother, furious and wailing, had followed her. She was demanding to see her daughter. But the girl was refusing to talk to her, terrified her family might kill her. They had already taken her passport.

"We have to get her out of the country quickly," David, the security agent said.

The girl's boyfriend in London, desperate to stop the marriage, arranged to have friends drive her to the embassy after she sneaked out of her family's home. In retaliation, the family filed kidnapping charges with the Pakistani police, who threw the boyfriend's Pakistani father and brother in jail, a blunt tactic to force the girl to comply.

The 17-year-old Scottish girl who had taken refuge in the British Embassy was on her way to the shelter.

Her boyfriend in London -- whom she met by chance at a restaurant counter -- had already wired money for a flight. She was booked to leave for London at 4:40 a.m., in just a few hours.

Working his cellphone, David smoothed things over with the Pakistani police, arranging for release of the boyfriend's father and brother. He would personally go to the airport, despite the hour, to ensure that the girl walked safely onto the plane.

The United Kingdom is a country so terrified of it's Muslim populace that it cannot voice criticism of any thing Islamic. Indeed, such criticism is largely against the law. Yet, in the midst of all this self-abasement, a few brave souls fight back.

Realists in a country of make-believe: Ms Rawlins is one of those people.

Well-spoken, armed and dangerous, when she hears the call for help she acts instantly. Often juggling more than one case at a time, Helen Rawlins sports an incredibly high success rate.

A toast is in order.

What she wanted

A non-wedding toast, if you may.

by pat
* scotland
* msnbc

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