The way forced marriage plays out and is treated, culturally and legally, makes inequality between the sexes glaringly obvious. Power differences between men and women (girls, really, in this case) are not taken into account. Immigration officials turn a blind eye while abuse happens right under their noses. Caseworkers grant rapists the legal right to continue to access and abuse girls by issuing them UK Spouse Visas, while women’s rights to safety, security, and autonomy are ignored. Women and girls’ voices are silenced and the law fails to protect them.
Often what happens is that British teenagers and children are duped into a holiday by their family members, then, once abroad, they are forced to marry men they’ve never met. Taken far from home, away from the intervention of friends or concerned school teachers, victims have no choice but to comply.
[O]ut of the 175 reports made by reluctant sponsors last year, only 88 were investigated further. This means that a potential 87 victims fell through the cracks of the system, and almost half of the investigated cases were granted a visa regardless. Ultimately, 129 reluctant sponsors attempted to, but were not able to, block their husband’s visas. This number could climb to 139 should the remaining 10 cases still pending due to an an appeal result in a visa.
Home Office hypocrisy has no end: while immigration officials are quick to refuse visas for genuine, consenting couples, they continue to approve visas for men who purchase wives overseas.
The last chance a forced marriage victim has to block her oppressor from tormenting her for life is to file a statement. However, after indicting her exploiters in this statement and outlining the trauma she has experienced at the hands of her oppressors, the authorities then disclose the statement to her spouse and family. This is problematic the victim’s own family are the ones responsible, exposing her to honour-based violence and further danger.
While foreign spouse visa applicants can have their applications blocked by their British wives, Home Affairs believed that husbands “deserve” to know how and why their visa has been rejected.
Since both marriage parties must be over the age of 18 to legitimately apply for a spouse visa, arranging for the intended husband to rape the girl, in order to get her pregnant, is common in the case of minors. Families ensure the girl gives birth to her rapist’s child in the UK, and the low bar of requirements for a family visa means the husband can then enter the UK on the grounds that he has a child who is a British citizen. In other words, impregnating a British girl guarantees a UK visa since the victim has no opportunity to block it.
These women and girls are exploited first by their families, then by their “husbands,” then abandoned by the government and legal system.