UK: Mentally Disabled Women Forced into Marriages, Raped for Visas

BAMIYAN, AFGHANISTAN - OCTOBER 8: Rahima (L), 18, looks out the window of her room with another battered woman at a women's shelter October 8, 2010 in Bamiyan, Afghanistan. Rahima, from Maydan Wardak, was a child bride, forced to marry at age 11. Until women's shelters were started, something that …
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The Home Office is allowing women with severe mental disabilities to be forcibly married and raped, in both Britain and Pakistan, so that foreign men can obtain a visa and stay in the country.

Migrant and Muslim families reportedly believe that marrying their disabled children to foreigners will secure them a carer — and are being allowed to because authorities are too politically correct to invene, according to critics.

The victims include a woman with the mental age of a 7-year-old allowed to marry in a British registry office to a Pakistani man who had overstayed his student visa, The Times reports.

Authorities had been aware of the case for over ten years and had received warnings the family of the man was paying around £20,000 to the woman’s family because he wanted to stay in the United Kingdom.

The woman had been forced into marriage twice already abroad, beaten, and raped, but council officials allowed the British wedding as they were “concerned about being seen not to have taken into account the cultural background” of those involved, according to court documents.

Another Muslim woman with a “very significant degree of learning disability” was forcibly married to a cousin in Bangladesh and raped, before the abuser was handed a British visa.

At a hearing about the case in the Court of Protection, in 2012, a judge said the victim’s husband was “physically very rough and abusive, smacking her head, shaking her, and yanking her eyelid”.

He added: “I watched the wedding video and [the victim] was slumped in a chair almost comatose.”

The migrant she was forced to marry twice failed to get a visa and an immigration judge said that her ability to understand and sponsor him was “very much in doubt”. However, she was then forced to live with him and was raped and impregnated.

Her parents were “devout Muslims” who saw nothing wrong with the arrangement, spoke little English, and were “very largely insulated from mainstream English society and mistrustful of non-Bengalis” the court heard.

The wedding was finally annulled and the child was taken in to care.

In a similar case the following year, Mr Justice Holman said: “I have been told there are a number of incapacitated adults who have been the subject of arranged or forced marriages and that it is important to send a strong signal to the Muslim and Sikh communities that arranged marriages, where one party is mentally incapacitated, simply will not be tolerated.”

Rachel Clawson, a former social worker and University of Nottingham academic specialising in forced marriage cases with disabled victims, told The Times:

“We’ve come across all sorts of abusive issues where families have basically sold their son or daughter. Because families don’t see these as forced marriages, lots of practitioners don’t see them as forced marriages either.

“They’re worried about being perceived as racist or culturally insensitive. Most marriages take place overseas and people get visas to come over.”

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