Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Forced Marriage Highlighted at Tory Women's Meeting

I've just had this from a friend who last night attended the first Conservative Women's Organisation Muslim Group meeting at the House of Commons.
The topic for debate was arranged and forced marriage, highlighted by Lord Lester's Bill on forced marriage, which is currently making its way through both chambers and has bi-partisan support.The room was stacked to the rafters with women and a few men, of all ethnic backgrounds and age groups. Author and co-founder of the refuge, Karma Nirvana, Jasvinder Sanghera, kicked off the evening speaking of her personal experience of being forced into a marrige when she was just fourteen. She did not accept her parents choice and ran away from home. More than twenty years ago, she has not had any significant contact with her family since. They do not speak to her or acknowledge her work. Needless to say it was very powerful and questions from the floor demonstrated that forced marriage has great relevance among female British Asian communities today. Perhaps the most significant points were raised by Caroline Spelman and Sayeeda Warsi. Caroline rightly, pointed out that whilst legislation is a strong deterrent it cannot work alone. The cultural shift must also be made to make it socially unacceptable as well as illegal. This means the communities involved, government, statuatory groups and media all have to work together to get the message across that forced marriage endangers an individual's basic human right. Sayeeda echoed this when she said that if ethnic communities are going to talk about religious and cultural freedom then they must also fully accept gender equality. She added that ethnic communities must take ownership of this issue and move it forward. It was a good start for the new Muslim Group and I hope the first of many such events.

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is this your cure for insomnia?

Chris Paul said...

Tories - "spreading myths and exaggerations about ethnic communities R'Us". Can you provide a link to an authoritative source on the quantum of forced marriages in contemporary UK?

Not 20 years ago. here and now.

Like Michael Howard going and making a hero of Nick Griffin (in Blackburn was it?) with an entirely inappropriate spiel about asylum - not the grouch in that part of Lancashire.

Anonymous said...

I thought for a minute this was going to be about the Welsh Conservatives getting into bed with Plaid Cymru..

Any port in a storm...

Anonymous said...

"Forced Marriage Highlighted at Tory Women's Meeting "

This is about the pro- and anti-grammar school factions being required to share the same room?

englishman said...

When I read this sort of thing I'm forcibly reminded that my country has become unrecognisable.

Anonymous said...

the same sayeeda who backs freedom fighters?

Anonymous said...

Alan Duncan Forced To Marry Anne Widdecombe?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps somebody in the Labour party can remind us of the 'primary purpose' rule, which was scrapped virtually as they entered No10 in 1997.

Take this publication:

The Primary Purpose Rule in British Immigration Law

Author : Sanjiv Sachedeva

'This is the first ever detailed study of a central plank in current British immigration law designed specifically to keep out as many people from the Indian subcontinent as possible by making their entry as spouses subject to official discretion and to requirements that are in many cases impossible to fulfil.

The author has put together material from widely dispersed sources to produce a detailed account of how cruel rule has been developed and fine-tuned over the past two decades.'

As a shameful sop to its inner city Muslim vote, Labour scrapped this rule which ultimately made forced marriage (where one party was being brought into the UK) very hard.

I understand that the two parties were separated by Immigration officials and interviewed, making it easy for somebody being forced to speak out in private.

Just like the postal vote scandal (just look at those who have been prosecuted so far) Labour delivers some truly evil policies for Muslim scammers.

For many years I had Muslim Pakastani landlords who used to make us write our rent cheques out to Muslim Charities so they looked like donations and so were tax free!

There is some very serious and endemic rule bending going on amongst the rural Pakastani immigrant community.

Indeed, last night's R4 programme for the 'visually impaired' discussed at length cases of minicab drivers refusing to take guide dogs in their cars.

Not once was it mentioned that one thing unified the culprits, despite successful prosecutions.

Different people, living in different world is very bad for all of us. And Labour has bought community votes by removing the bulwark against force marriage.

Incidently, the inner city Pakistani community uses the importing of spouses to 'top up' their separateness from the rest of the UK.

After all, a westernised bride and groom would eventually lead to a dilution of this separateness over a couple of generations.

And yes, I'm the son of a poor immigrant...

Anonymous said...

this from the BBC website 'Politics 97'

Immigration Rules Relaxed

The Government has scrapped one of Britain's toughest immigration laws. The Primary Purpose rule, which has barred entry into the UK for thousands of people married to British citizens, has been dropped.

Home Secretary Jack Straw said it was being ended because "it is arbitrary, unfair and ineffective and has penalised genuine cases, divided families and unnecessarily increased the administrative burden on the immigration system."

The move was described as "hugely welcome" by Claude Moraes of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, who said it would be beneficial, both practically and symbolically.


Waiting in the airport lounge

Previously, the Primary Purpose rule required foreign nationals married to British citizens to prove that the primary purpose of their marriage was not to obtain British residency.

If those wishing to take up residency in the UK could not prove this to the satisfaction of immigration officers, they were denied entry into the United Kingdom. The change in the law is expected to place the burden of proof on immigration officials rather than those applying for residency.

In abolishing the rule, Labour is honouring one of its election manifesto commitments. The abolition of the rule will bring immediate benefits to more than 1,000 couples who were barred from the UK on the basis of the rule in 1996 alone.


Straw reveals the changes

Mr Straw said he was determined to build an immigration and asylum system that was "fairer, faster and firmer". He stressed that the other rules on married partners applying to enter Britain - such as those saying the marriage must not be one of convenience and not place a financial burden on the state - would remain.

Mr Straw said the rules would be amended from Wednesday and added, "Entry clearance officers are being instructed not to refuse entry clearance applications where the refusal depends solely on the primary purpose rule."

Mr Straw's announcement came in a written reply to a question from Keith Vaz, the Labour MP for Leicester East, who was quick to welcome the change.

Mr Vaz said, "This is an historic decision. Jack Straw should be congratulated on this move. Thousands of people separated under this cruel and malicious rule will now be treated with the respect they deserve. Today's announcement is the first step towards restoring justice to Britain's immigration policy."

Tone made me do it - he's a bad influence said...

With his comments on Grammer Schools, Camerooon seems to be forcing a marriage between the Conservative party and Blairism in an enormous Clinton like "big-tent".

Cameroon should remember another US Presidential saying this time from LBJ:
" I'd rather have them inside our tent pissing out, then outside our tent pissing in".

I rather suspect that his "big tent" will be disappointingly empty with increasing numbers of people like myself contemplating purchasing a step ladder in order to facilitate pissing in to it.

Anonymous said...

It's disgraceful that women of some cultures or certain ethnic backgrounds are made to endure forced marriages. One of the main reasons, aside from cultural and community pressures, their families are able to do this to them is the secondary and dependent role women still have in some ethnic communities.

It's only a matter of a few decades since quite a number of women - and men - from non-ethnic backgrounds were forced into marriages in Britain. I mean shot gun marriages, forced on couples when the female became pregnant. The community and family pressures involved in this were much the same as those involved in the forced marriages of some ethnic communities.

Auntie Flo'

Anonymous said...

"Tories - "spreading myths and exaggerations about ethnic communities R'Us"

Tony Blair is a Tory?

http://www.number-10.gov.uk/output/page11504.asp
PM condemns "inhuman" forced marriages

http://www.fco.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1094234857863

The Forced Marriage Unit sees around 250 cases a year.

hatfield girl said...

'ethnic communities must take ownership of this issue and move it forward.'

And they must have all the support they ask for from the rest of us.

helena handcart said...

Why don't they just go back where they belong? Then they can indulge in forced marriage (or Suttee, if that's what turns them on) to their hearts' content and it will be none of our business.

Anonymous said...

Sack the twat who can't spell Smith in your messagespace ads.

hatfield girl said...

'it will be none of our business.'

but it should remain always our concern; that the exchange of women for economic and social ends takes place anywhere is a great cruelty; gross practices against women, sometimes within, as well as outside, the UK are unacceptable, not none of our business when elsewhere.

Chris Paul said...

Anonymous 10:05 PM said...
"Tories - "spreading myths and exaggerations about ethnic communities R'Us"

Tony Blair is a Tory?

<<

Er no. Mr Blair has made thousands of statements on diverse matters over the past 13 years. I'm not disputing that this is a problem. But I'm always interested in the quantum. How many?

And also in the symbolism of a one-off like Howard going and speaking about the wrong issue and feeding the BNP, or a first event like this particular Tory Women's Meeting.

My disappointment is that this inaugural meeting addressed a negative aspect of particular communities and actually one which the government and the FCO and UK police - setting aside party politics for a moment - are dealing with in a very determined and progressive way.

I don't believe that a woman's group of a particular ethnicity should be confined to talking about women's issues for that ethnicity (actually and others in this case).

If they wanted to be negative - but not at their own community's expense - they might have talked about women's representation in Tory elected positions, or Muslim women ditto.

If they wanted to be positive - and this was a launch after all - they might have talked about the Asian Rich List in this country. Or the great steps on representation from one of the other major parties. Or the success of Konnie Huq.

Probably didn't make the point very well, and realising that came back expecting a good kicking, but instead I see people getting merrily OT and kicking out on other things.

It's strange to be saying it but whoever was behind this event might have read Cameron's babble at Web Cameron about his brief stay in a Muslim home. Forced Marriages seems the wrong way to begin such an enterprise that's all.

For the record the numbers reported to the FCO are now up to about 200 per annum. In 2000 when the FMU* was getting going it was just 100. Though figures of up to 300 are quoted in the sensible media. While the unsensible media just puts it about as if this is standard nuptials for Muslim folk and Asians generally.

I'll maybe share some of what I know on this on the blog tomorrow. There are now three Muslim Asian Women on Manchester Council. Up from zero 13 months ago - though one of the three has been on before.

There are no tories of any demographic on the Council - unless you count the Libs.

Chris Paul said...

Sorry:

* FMU = Forced Marriages Unit

And anonymous I see you have posted the link to their web presence and that 250 figure.

Philipa said...

This is indeed a worthy cause but I don't see how outlawing any cultural practice is going to be effective when so much social and lawful weight is already held by immigrant cultures in this country. They have been encouraged to feel they can do what they like.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to be picky, but there is not a Lord Leicester in the House of Lords. The Bill is sponsored by Lord Lester of Herne Hill (Anthony Lester).

forthurst said...

Why do the bonehead politicians not understand that forcing a woman to have intercourse with a man against her will is rape which I believe is still a crime in this country and the parents concerned would of course be guilty of conspiracy to commit that serious crime.
Sorry, of course, they are boneheads so every time a person of colour breaks our law, we have to have a new act of parliament when that particularly law breaking is normal practice in some vile corner of the third world.

Anonymous said...

The lib dems have collapsed in wales your tories will not get into power hahahahahahahaha..... ha

MrKipper said...

anonymous "It's disgraceful that women of some cultures or certain ethnic backgrounds are made to endure forced marriages"

Typical daily mail reader.

Telstar said...

So why didn't you invite Ann Cryer MP who has done more on this than Sayeda Warsi ? Or won't they need her vote in The Commons ?

Nick Gulliford said...

Will forced marriages become "unacceptable" when marriage preparation is "socially acceptable"? Will any MPs attempt to improve the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Bill?

A little progress has been made, in that - at least in the latest version of the Bill - there is this provision: "The Secretary of State may from time to time prepare and publish guidance to such descriptions of persons as the Secretary of State considers appropriate."

However, I don't think that is sufficiently specific about the guidance that should be given to celebrants [Registrars and clergy] concerning preparation for marriage by engaged couples.

The Healthy Marriage Initiative of the US government includes some guidance in the use of suitable pre-marital assessment tools.

[http://www.healthymarriageinfo.org/marriageedu/?d=2D06AE90-1274-44CC-91B7-B8ADC4BFDC21]

Philipa said...

Ditto what Forthurst said 11:53pm

Excellent observation.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting this is. Lib Dem Peer, Lord Lester wrote this Bill and it has been something that has been championed by him and other Lib Dem Peers in the Lords for quite a while

The Tories werent that interested in the subject until they realised it was going to become law and they ought to get in on the act..

This is the new Conservatives...

Anonymous said...

mr.kipper.7.05
So I take it from your incisive argument that you endorse forced marriages?

Anonymous said...

Cat got your tongue Iain?, or is it just that you've seen today's ICM poll in the Guardian:

http://politics.guardian.co.uk/conservatives/story/0,,2086712,00.html

Anonymous said...

http://politics.guardian.co.uk/
conservatives/story/0,,2086712,00.html

Newmania said...

Forced marriages is the right issue to take , to begin to assert that living in this country requires that you abide by the laws and with the spirit of its dominant culture. It also marks a decisicve break with the encraoching lie of cultural relativism that has rended this country incapable of any moral judgement .

Chris Paul would clearly find it politically convenient for wholesale rape to continue rather than condemn these communities for this practice and others including rampant racismand hommophobia out of all proportion to the negligible amount found in white communities.
For people like him the only people that can ever be wrong are white male straight and employed. Ironically this includes much of the traditional Labour vote.

Anonymous said...

The illiberal left would have invoked the human rights act long ago if this were happening to white women. Sounds like racism to me.

Chris Paul said...

In general these marriages are not taking place in the UK. The FCO will co-operate in blocking visas for forcing husbands (and in 15% of cases forcing wives) but the forced person has to be able to accept that their request for this will become public knowledge. The FCO and Police will also co-operate with victims in trying to stop weddings where people come forward.

Anonymous said...

chrispaul.11.50.
Oh, so it's not all a conspiracy dreampt up by the Tories and the Daily Mail then?

Newmania said...

ICM Poll
In both April and May, the Conservatives increased their lead by six points when leaders' names, including Mr Brown's, were added to the question.

This month the Conservatives score 38% (down two on last month), Labour 30% (up two) and the Liberal Democrats 20% (unchanged). Analysis shows that almost all Conservative supporters stick with their party when they are reminded that Mr Cameron is leading it, but 15% of current Labour supporters fail to stick with the party when Mr Brown is named as leader. Among Lib Dems, 21% move away when Sir Menzies is mentioned.


Its not all that bad is it ? Reminds you what an asset david Cameron is and thank god they`ve got Brown. On this result Labout would actually have slightly more seats but i think that will have chnaged before the election following the boundary commission.

Neil craig said...

Perhaps the strongest pressure for forced marriage is that it gives the new husband British citizenship. This can be very important when there exists an extended family with cousins in Pakistan - traditional Islamic marriages are often to second cousins, as indeed they were in Britain before mass travel & the embarrasment to a family of a girl refusing to fulfil what, from that viewpoint can reasonably be considered her family duty, is clear.

There is therefore a strong argument, both for the girls' benefit & on immigration terms, for denying citizenship to male spouses, as they do in Singapore.

Anonymous said...

"what an asset david Cameron is "

Three letters out of five ain't bad, newmania. Of course if you take the 'ET' out of DC you would forget that he 'want to go home'.

Anonymous said...

"I rather suspect that his "big tent" will be disappointingly empty "

Not so! Ann Widdeconbe inhabits it most of the time! So does nick Soames but he likes to keep it quiet!

Anonymous said...

We are living in a multicultural society. We do not have to approve of the customs of other cultures, so long as we do not interfere with them.

mrkipper said...

unless you are an hysterical daily mail reader who has a mantra like 'anonymous'

"It's disgraceful that women of some cultures or certain ethnic backgrounds are made to endure forced marriages."

shock horror foreigners

Chris Paul said...

Newmania: Presumably it is nature not nurture this problem you've got is it?

>> Forced marriages is the right issue to take ,

Forced marriages don't generally happen in this country at all.

>> to begin to assert that living in this country requires that you abide by the laws and with the spirit of its dominant culture.

So the above is ignorant twaddle

>> It also marks a decisicve break with the encraoching lie of cultural relativism that has rended this country incapable of any moral judgement .

What are you on about?

My posts are suggesting that these Tory women or their master chose an unfortunate negative topic to launch their activities. It is anything but a celebration or support of forced marriages.

I don't know how many asylum and immigration campaigns you are involved with or how many women who have been subject to unfortunate arranged (not forced) or forced or their daughters lined up for forced marriages?

Thought so. Zero.

>> Chris Paul would clearly find it politically convenient for wholesale rape to continue

What a ridiculous thing to type

>> rather than condemn these communities for this practice

I certainly wouldn't generalise about communities. I would refer to those involved in the c 250 cases per year and not the communities which are largely secular or cultural muslims (like churchian "christians") and have no truck with this slavery.

>> and others including rampant racism and hommophobia out of all proportion to the negligible amount found in white communities.

What are you on about? Where's your argument or your authority for this? MoS?

>> For people like him the only people that can ever be wrong are white male straight and employed.

You couldn't realy make this up Newmania. Oh, yes you could and you have.

>> Ironically this includes much of the traditional Labour vote.

That might be ironic if any of your tortured burblings in this rant stood up.

It is marvellous for Tories to be doing something about inequalities. Clearly there is an issue of walking the talk when we look at the number of women finding a way in as representatives

It is like a dog walking on its hind legs. It doesn't do it very well but it's a wonder to see it doing it at all. And yes I do know how ironic yet fitting it is to be using that quote.

This subject was no great service to Tory Muslim Women or any of the three constituents of that.

In my opinion. That's all. In my opinion.

Bradford said...

We are living in a multicultural society. We do not have to approve of the customs of other cultures, so long as we do not interfere with them.

Bullsh@t.

We live in a Judaeo-Christian society as embodied in legislation which small minority groups would do well to respect.

We do not need primitive traditions of hill villages in Kashmir or African villages transported into Western Europe.

People who live here will live by our rules, not abuse our welfare state, and not try to usurp our immigration procedures. If they want to waste our NHS resources dealing with the costs of miscengenation due to family in-breeding, I don't want my hospital overburdened with these costs.

I am tired of having shrouded women who do not speak English and are functionally illiterate imported into my city where 75% marriages among the 120.000 "minority" population take place with village girls from Mirpur and Sylhet.

I am tired of bearing the costs for this and would frankly dismantle the welfare state and tax credits and let them eke out the barren existence they are used to without abusing my taxes

Cinnamon said...

Iain, have you read the Quran? Please do. And remember that unlike the bible, the Quran is immutable, so the laws that give men ownership over womenfolk cannot be altered.[1]

"Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other. ... So good women are the obedient. ... As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them.--4:34"

There is no way that any woman will ever be her own master in any muslim culture, they may let her go her way alive if she is lucky, but as you can from the lady's sad example, see, the community and families shuns women that do not obey the rules, it is as if they have died to them.

You cannot police this kind of thing, just like you cannot police drug use! You cannot legislate for sanity and love... :(

What you can and should do is to rigorously ensure that schools will teach kids our western values to a point where those kids are equipped with the skills to stand up to their families' crazy world views. Muslim women also spoil their boys into being little emperors at whose beck and call women are. Turkish muslim women address males with 'effendi' (my lord), something that should give you a bit of a pause for thought, because much of what makes a muslim marriage is also a basic element in strict S&M lifestyle couples, with the difference that you have two (or more) mature adults consenting in the latter and that there is no social network that regards such archaic ways of living as 'normal'.

If you can educate against the home culture here and teach kids and especially girls that they have rights, ability and that they own their life, then in 15 years time you will begin to break this cycle, IFF you are willing to back it up practically by providing moral support and physical security -- the men will not let 'their' women go without a fight, you cannot talk this one over nicely -- it'll have to be duked out, the same way that western women won their freedom.


[1] here is a list of dragons you'll have to kill before you'll reach your goal:

http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/quran/women/long.html