Err, yes?

The Foreign Office has come under fire for ordering victims of forced marriage to repay the government the costs of their repatriation.

In a letter seen by the Guardian, a Muslim women’s charity has written to the Foreign Office on behalf of a British woman who arrived at the UK embassy in Islamabad in 2014, aged 17, seeking help to escape a forced marriage.

She was required to sign a loan agreement and surrender her passport before she was flown back to the UK. She was then issued a bill for £814, the cost of her repatriation from Pakistan, and will not have her passport returned until she repays the money.

This is the system. You can indeed go to any Embassy (or consulate) and ask that you be repatriated. They’ll get you a flight, pay for it, make sure you’ve somewhere to sleep, something to eat, while you wait for it. And then they’ll take your passport (in the UK) and insist that you cannot have it back until you’ve paid the bill.

This is true of a forced marriage victim just as much as it is true of someone who has simply run out of money while abroad.

There’s a service to make sure you’re safe and sound at home if necessary. And we don’t pay for the flight, we lend you, we other taxpayers, the money for it.

Without such a system how many gap yah kids are going to inconveniently run out of money in Sydney?

Writing to the Foreign Office on the woman’s behalf after she contacted the Muslim Women’s Network UK helpline, Shaista Gohir, the charity’s chair, said that demanding payment from forced marriage victims was morally wrong and counterproductive.

She wrote: “Your policy is likely to put off victims from asking for help, and it is unacceptable that a victim should have no option but to remain in a forced marriage because he or she cannot afford to pay for their escape.”

Idiot fucking twat.

“We are not, however, funded to provide financial assistance to British nationals overseas, and cannot therefore pay for repatriations. We keep our assistance provision under constant review.”

He added: “I would also ask that you reassure [the woman] that the FCO will not pursue this through the courts.”

31 comments on “Err, yes?

  1. So I guess the parents are being prosecuted for the forced marriage and sued for the repatriation costs?

    Oh, I suppose not. Them being from a minority whose ever so slightly different way of living must be respected.

  2. immigration is the gift that just keeps giving isn’t it?

    There is an obvious way to avoid paying these costs.

  3. “Forcing someone into marriage in England and Wales carries a maximum seven-year jail sentence under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.”

    And how many cases have been brought to trial? Is it fewer than FGM cases, I wonder?

  4. You can’t normally prosecute someone for doing something abroad which is not a crime there. The British government could refuse to recognise such marriages, but I think we all know where they stand on that.

  5. Dunno Tim. If it’s true that the “policy is likely to put off victims from asking for help” then the cost of flights back to the Dar el-Salam seems like a much more attractive option for the British taxpayer than the likely alternative of covering housing, healthcare, education and retirement for them – and the semi-retarded kids that result from their consanguineous marriage to an illiterate Birmingham-based capraphiliac – for the rest of their naturals.

    Of course, we should recoup our cash from the people who imported them here in the first place. Plus interest, arrangement fees, cost of their flights to a more suitable country of permanent residence once we finally tire of their cheeky vehicular-based religious antics and/or surprise sex, et cetera, et cetera.

    Certainly a better way to spend taxpayers’ money than funding Camilla Batmanjelly’s seafood diet.

  6. “Your policy is likely to put off victims from asking for help, and it is unacceptable that a victim should have no option but to remain in a forced marriage because he or she cannot afford to pay for their escape.”

    Forced marriage is so absolutely awful that women are going to decide £814 is too much to pay to get out of it. Huh?

    She is lying. No one is forced to stay shackled to Rapey Ahmed the First Cousin until they come up with the cash. You get a loan, which is when someone gives you money and you promise to pay it back at a future date. They will be under the terrible burden of not having a passport until they do, which presumably will be an asset in preventing any future foreign excursions with other first cousins.

  7. What’s the net present benefit calculation on the £814? I’d wager it’s rather good…

    And once you start offering PC exceptions from the “you must pay back your own repatriation” rule, where do we end? Gap Yah students claiming they’re out of money and at risk of being sold into sex slavery in Thailand?

    Anyway, there’s got to be an angle on “forced marriages” being a derogatory, racist term for “arranged marriages”, so this story’s racist because reasons.

  8. It must be said, if the FO is fully charging its costs, it’s better at VFM than most branches of government. £813 sounds surprisingly reasonable for several nights in a hotel inc food, plus a flight halfway round the globe, all at short notice, and organized on your behalf.

    I’d always assumed that getting in a mess somewhere and getting the FO to drag you out of it was £2-3k game minimum.

  9. TIS,
    £814 is the cost of the flight repatriating Nasreen from Pakistan to the UK; if it were the other way around, it would indeed be a bargain.

    RLJ,
    > You can’t normally prosecute someone for doing something abroad which is not a crime there.

    Sure we can. We do it for sex tourists who go to Thailand etc.

  10. At 17 she’s a child. If she’s not, then neither are thousands of migrants. She has had the presence of mind to hold on to her passport and go to the embassy for help, where I presume she gave a sufficiently coherent story to convince the staff to help her rather than hand her back to her family. I have some sympathy for her.

    BTW, many if not most countries won’t let you in without a ticket out, so the risk of being sold into sex slavery is not as high as you imagine.

  11. Andrew M,
    I would be very surprised if any “sex tourists” were charged with offences that are not offences in Thailand. You couldn’t get a fag paper between the laws relating to sex with young persons in the UK and Thailand.

  12. You can’t normally prosecute someone for doing something abroad which is not a crime there.

    There are people trying to make sex tourism abroad a crime.

  13. So a 18 year old, born in this country but forced to go to Pakistan for a forcearraigned is to be equated with a tosspot gap year student? No. It might suit arseholes like S.M.F.S. to see this as a good idea, but it isn’t.

  14. Ironman,
    In the interests of accuracy, the normal procedure is to take the family back to Pakiland for a holiday, then introduce the daughter to her new husband.

    The girls are not normally “forced” to leave the UK.

  15. @Ironman, it is a sad tale, indeed. The question is, where does the FCO draw the line? Since it has zero budget, it can make zero distinction between the two cases.

    Perhaps a charity could collect donations to repay the loans in such cases?

  16. Well, the person who shouldn’t be paying is the minor who was abducted. And yes, taking a child out of the country under false pretenses is indeed abduction.

  17. Oh, by all means prosecute those who are in the UK and aided and abetted the abduction, and attempt to recover it from them. Plus, prevent the husband from ever setting foot in the UK again except to go to prison.

  18. This is tremendous for the Guardian, which is usually faced with pretty thin gruel when trying to defend forced marriage or blame it on Whitey. This gives them an angle, and they wolfed it down like a fat Labrador being thrown scraps from the dinner table.

  19. Ironman – “So a 18 year old, born in this country but forced to go to Pakistan for a forcearraigned is to be equated with a tosspot gap year student?”

    I don’t see this cultural enrichment as a good thing. On the contrary, the people who do it are not and will never be part of the British community and belong in Pakistan.

    However you miss the point. No one is equating the two cases. TW is pointing out it is impossible for consular officials to make a distinction. That needs policemen and courts. By all means, prosecute. But if the consulate is rung up by some Jacinta because she wants a free ticket home, they are in no position to judge the validity of her claim. She may have been kidnapped and forced into sexual slavery for all they know. Or she could be trying it on. Lend her the money for a ticket, sort it out later.

  20. All RoP marriages must have UK age and bigamy laws applied to them.

    Arrive in the UK to try and stay with more than one wife=jail for bigamy. The law should be applied retroactively ( I hate retro-active law but since ZaNu started it In see no reason not to use it now. It can be abolished forever later). So any with 4 wives will have to divorce 3 and pay alimony to them and their kids and pay the costs of repatriating them. If a modest bounty is offered it would be much cheaper to take the family and go back to their origin.

    The bounty will be much cheaper than a civil war.

    Arrive in the UK with wife underage –or whom you have married while she was underage ( and have been waiting it out in the old country for her 18th or whatever)–= arrested and charged as a paedo.

    Not allowing engagements overseas in the first place is also a good idea. RoP Daughter goes on family holiday and comes back engaged = police enquiry into potential forced marriage. No need to undo arranged weddings if they are made much harder to arrange in the first place.

    These moves would make the UK far less attractive to RoP colonists.

  21. It’s interesting that we took a minor diversion into sex tourism. It seems that British law applies to white Britons wherever they are, but not to brown Britons anywhere.

  22. Hmmm… women trying to get free shit, historical first there.

    If we look at the name of the organisation trying to scam us for more cash then… could it be possible I could found a non-muslim men’s association? Could said association’s meeting rooms be a safe men only place (smirk)?

  23. And yes, taking a child out of the country under false pretenses is indeed abduction.

    Okay, yes. But well, no. Look at the law as it is, not as you think it should be.

    (Notes that this possibly does fall in to the English common law definition of “kidnapping” – carrying away, by fraud, without consent or lawful excuse.)

    Offence of abduction of child by parent, etc.

    (1)Subject to subsections (5) and (8) below, a person connnected with a child under the age of sixteen commits an offence if he takes or sends the child out of the United Kingdom without the appropriate consent.

    So, she was 16 at the time of the trafficking into the 7th Century. Therefore not abduction. And although it is tl;dr, “appropriate consent” includes the other parent. So if they both agreed to take her out, regardless of what they told her, it isn’t abduction. There is nothing in there about the child (not that she was) consenting. Which is understandable as it was to do with the custodial parent not consenting.

    As a note, the various Forced Marriage acts and regulations don’t mention “abduction”.

  24. Plus, prevent the husband from ever setting foot in the UK again except to go to prison.

    Err, may I please disagree? Our prisons are far too nice and far too expensive. Let us pay the Pakistanis to keep him in one of theirs.

  25. Typically another article with comments disabled. These people can’t understand that you pay *after* you escape *if* you can afford to. If you can never afford to pay back the loan you never pay it – at the cost of losing your passport. But that’s a protection against forcibly being taken “on holiday”, you haven’t got a passport.

  26. “Your policy is likely to put off victims from asking for help, and it is unacceptable that a victim should have no option but to remain in a forced marriage because he or she cannot afford to pay for their escape.”

    That’s a completely idiotic statement.

    1. The state doesn’t reimburse *any* victim of a crime. None whatsoever. There’s no difference here.

    2. If its such bullshit, well you’re a charity, right? Why don’t you cover those expenses?

    3. If you’re ‘put off’ of asking for help because you might incure a thousand pound bill that will need to be paid at some unspecified time in the future – do you *really* need help? I’m thinking that if I were in that situation and the Embassy said I had to sign over for a loan of 10k, I’ma gonna sign and sort it out later.

    Hmm, forced servitude and sexual abuse or go home, get a job, and pay off a plane ticket over a couple of years. . . decisions, decisions, decisions.

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