2007 the Forced Marriage Unit dealt with
215 cases of overseas forced marriage where
the age of the victim was known, 69 of which
involved people aged between 18 and 20.
new steps significantly strengthen the safeguards
against forced marriage. The five key proposals
announced today are to:
raise the age of sponsorship for a marriage
visa from 18 to 21;
ask foreign spouses to enter into an agreement
to learn English before they come to the
introduce a power to revoke leave to remain
where there is evidence that the marriage
route has been abused;
require all sponsors to register their
intention to marry overseas before they
leave the UK; and
ensure through a code of practice that
specialist teams can identify vulnerable
people at risk of forced marriage.
Secretary Jacqui Smith said:"Forced
marriage leads to victims suffering years
of physical and mental abuse and - in extreme
cases - unlawful imprisonment and rape.
It has no place in our society. That is
why the Government is determined to do everything
it can to stamp it out and to ensure that
victims receive the help and support they
is why we are raising the age limit for
visas, checking anyone entering into a marriage
does so of their own free will, and demanding
that those coming to the UK learn English."
British citizen applying to 'sponsor' someone
to come to the UK as their spouse will have
to declare their intention before they leave
the UK and marry abroad. This will mean
that a young person will know in advance
that a marriage will take place overseas
and who their prospective partner will be.
guidance is also being introduced so the
UK Border Agency staff can spot any risk
of abuse or those who are vulnerable to
forced marriage and prevent them from being
coerced into marriage. In these cases we
will make clear what the rights of victims
are and how the marriage visa will be dealt
new rules will mean that anyone abusing
the marriage visa system will be removed
from the UK by the UKBA under a new power
to revoke people's right to stay in the
Government believes that those who stay
in the UK must have a good grasp of English
to ensure they integrate into British life.
Before they come to the UK, spouses will
need to sign up to an agreement to learn
English. Soon after their arrival, the UKBA
will check they are fulfilling their promise.
If they are not, their leave could be cancelled.
and Immigration Minister Liam Byrne: "British
citizens have the right to marry whoever
they choose. But we want newcomers to succeed
in our society and sign up to the standards
we have in common. That means freedom, not
being forced to marry someone, and it means
newcomers quickly acquiring a command of
English, with consequences for those who
break the rules."
guidelines will help ensure that police,
teachers and health workers can recognise
the signs of a forced marriage, take action
and help victims escape. A consultation
published today will ensure the Government
gets this advice for workers right.