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US NewsForeign Office makes forced marriage victims pay for their rescue

10:15  02 january  2019
10:15  02 january  2019 Source:   news.sky.com

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Revealed: The weirdest calls Britons have made to the Foreign Office The Foreign Office received more than 330,000 calls from Britons who needed help overseas this year. And, while 4,900 of them were from those who had been arrested and more than 3,400 from those in hospital, there were also enquiries of a much more unusual nature. Among the strangest was a man who wanted to know if there were vampires in Poland. The reason for his concern? A woman he was due to meet for a date had asked his blood type. © Other Are there vampires in Poland? A worried caller wants to know...

Protecting victims from forced marriage must be seen as a fundamental right and not a profit- making business.” The joint Home Office and Foreign It assists with rescues of victims held against their will overseas in extreme circumstances. Foreign nationals who had been living in the UK must pay

The Foreign Office is to review its policy on forced marriage after the Guardian revealed that victims are ordered to repay the government the costs of The shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, said it was shocking that forced marriage victims were being made to pay for their return to the UK.

Foreign Office makes forced marriage victims pay for their rescue © Getty A forced marriage victim's ordeal is not over once they return to the UK

Young women rescued by the Foreign Office after being sent abroad for forced marriages have found themselves having to pay hundreds of pounds in costs linked to their return to the UK.

Victims must pay for their plane ticket, food and shelter themselves - or, if they are over 18 - they can take out emergency loans from the government, according to an investigation by The Times.

Women who have taken out loans have had their passports cancelled, and were told they cannot get a new one until the debt is repaid.

A 10% surcharge is also added if the emergency loan is not repaid within six months.

Iran, Sudan and Zimbabwe are among 23 embassies named and shamed by the Foreign Office for dodging UK tax bills worth £1.5million

Iran, Sudan and Zimbabwe are among 23 embassies named and shamed by the Foreign Office for dodging UK tax bills worth £1.5million Those representing countries including Sudan, Iran and Zimbabwe have been accused of dodging bills. 

The Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) is a joint Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Home Office unit which leads on the government’s forced marriage policy, outreach and casework. In extreme circumstances the FMU will assist with rescues of victims held against their will overseas.

Forced marriage is a marriage in which one or more of the parties is married without his or her consent or against his or her will. A forced marriage differs from an arranged marriage

According to the newspaper, four young British women were sent by their families to a "correctional school" in Somalia in 2018, where they were imprisoned and physically abused.

Foreign Office makes forced marriage victims pay for their rescue © Getty The Foreign Office makes victims of forced marriages to pay for their return to the UK

They were charged £740 each and reportedly left destitute by the loans - and The Times was told that two of them were now living in refuges since returning to the UK, while two had become drug addicts.

The Foreign Office helped 27 victims of forced marriage return to the UK in 2017 and 55 in 2016, according to figures quoted by the newspaper.

In the past two years, the Foreign Office has lent £7,765 to at least eight women and about £4,500 is still outstanding.

News that the women were made to pay the costs of their return to the UK was met with anger from some MPs.

Women forced into marriage overseas asked to pay repatriation costs

Women forced into marriage overseas asked to pay repatriation costs The report has been described as ‘astonishing’

Briton forced into marriage in Pakistan aged 16 was made to sign loan agreement at UK embassy Alerting the parents to the repatriation by asking them to pay for it could put the victim at further In 2015, the Foreign Office ’s forced marriage unit gave advice or support related to a possible forced

A marry-your-rapist law, marry-the-rapist law or rape- marriage law is a law regarding rape that exonerates a man or boy from prosecution for rape, sexual assault, statutory rape

Tom Tugendhat, the Tory chairman of the foreign affairs select committee said The Times report was "astonishing" and that questions would be asked.

He said: "[The Foreign Office] is rightly proud of the work the [forced marriages unit] does. They should be.

"But we shouldn't be charging the most vulnerable for their own protection or dissuading them from asking for it."

Yvette Cooper, chairwoman of the home affairs committee, said: "Forced marriage is slavery. For the government to make victims pay for their freedom is immoral. Ministers need to put this right fast."

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "We recognise that an emergency loan can help remove a distressed or vulnerable person from risk when they have no other options, but as they are from public funds we have an obligation to recover the money in due course.

"When people contact us for help to return to the UK, we work with them to access their own funds, or help them contact friends, family or organisations that can cover the costs of returning to the UK.

"However, many of the victims who the Forced Marriage Unit help are vulnerable, and when offering any type of support their safety is our primary concern.

"The Forced Marriage Unit also provides funding for safe houses and NGOs overseas and in the UK to ensure victims of forced marriage can get to a place of safety as soon as possible.

"We do not charge British nationals for this service and work with organisations in the UK to support them on return."

APNewsBreak: US approved thousands of child bride requests.
Data provided to The Associated Press raises questions about whether the U.S. immigration system may be enabling forced marriage and about how U.S. laws may be compounding the problem despite efforts to limit child and forced marriage. 

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