Young women who have been forced into Muslim marriages overseas are being charged by the UK’s Foreign Office for the cost of their rescue.
The Times revealed yesterday, “British victims who call for help are told that they have to find hundreds of pounds for their flight home, basic food and shelter.”
The report went on to say, “Any who are over 18 and cannot pay are made to sign emergency loan agreements with the Foreign Office before boarding their flight home and have their passports confiscated until they repay.” If the loan is not repaid after six months a 10% surcharge is added to the total.
At least four young British brides-to-be who were imprisoned and tortured in an Islamic school in Somalia told The Times they were forced to pay £740 to return home. The women were eventually reduced to near-poverty due to the burden of the loan.
According to The Guardian, in March 2017, the Foreign Office said it would amend its repatriation policy so that children aged 16 and 17-years old would no longer have to reimburse the government for receiving help. However, the policy is still in place for women aged 18 and over.
Between 2014 and 2016, UK police received 3,546 reports of forced marriages, however experts warn there are thousands more unreported cases. During the same three-year period, just one national helpline received more than 22,000 calls from concerned individuals or agencies, some concerning children under 10-years old.