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.”