Saturday, March 07, 2009

Will Shari’a Courts in the UK sabatoge the Forced Marriage Act?

Cranmer has been asked by Islamist Watch to make his readers and communicants aware of this issue, and he is delighted to do so. Victoria Golshani writes:

In February, the stories of a Muslim teenager and a 22 year old Muslim girl, who were saved from arranged marriages under the newly minted Forced Marriage Act hit local UK papers highlighting the potential success of the act as the number of reported cases increased by 80% in 2008. Yet, as more cases come to light, so will a variety of weaknesses in the law.

The act, passed in November of 2008, is a civil measure, preventing parents and family members from forcing their children to marry against their will. In many cases, family members use emotional manipulation to coerce the victim into leaving the UK with convincing stories, such as a mother having fallen ill, as was the case with Dr. Humayra Abedin, who moved to the UK six years prior to her forced return to Bangladesh where her parents drugged, bound, and imprisoned her for four and a half months. She was forced to marry a stranger while heavily sedated. The reason? Dr. Abedin had a Hindu boyfriend in the UK at the time.

Under the Forced Marriage Act, the High Court ordered Dr. Abedin’s return to the UK. If the marriage has already taken place, the Act enables the victim to annul the marriage and empowers courts to take protective steps such as changing the victim’s name, seize and suspend an individual’s passport, or reveal the location of the victim or other persons involved in the crime.

According to the act, any person involved in the “aiding, abetting, counseling, procuring, encouraging or assisting [of] another person to force, or to attempt to force, a person to enter into a marriage” or “conspiring to force, or to attempt to force, a person to enter into a marriage” will be held liable for their actions. However, the act remains rather shallow, and with little deterrent effect since it does not allow the victim to sue for civil damages (money), or provide criminal punishment against individuals found guilty. The Act argues that penalizing violators will deter victims from coming forward since victims will not want their family members to go to jail. The Act specifically states that orders should “have such regard to the person’s wishes and feelings.” Unfortunately, such sentiment is misplaced. As Jasvinder Sanghera, a survivor of a forced marriage, and now activist against it, states, “If you refuse your parents’ wishes, even though you know what they are doing is wrong, you end up feeling like the criminal. You are the bad daughter because you have shamed them.” But that does not mean that the state should reinforce that cycle of self-blame. Just as similar excuses are not instituted for crimes such as domestic abuse, incest, rape or molestation, they should not be for forced marriages.

Moreover, most women with the courage to come forward will not do so because the Act does not allow them to sue for support, or allow access to housing, job training, and other social services that could put them on their own feet. The majority of forced marriage cases deal with minors or women without financial independence like that of Saamiya, a 16 year-old Pakistani girl whose father pointed a gun to her back during the “marriage ceremony” and is in hiding after her brothers threatened to kill her for shaming the family. Thus, an Act that was supposedly meant to protect women fails to create an environment where they can come forward by leaving them alone and destitute instead.

Legislators defend the limited prosecution of the act by offering related offences such as kidnapping, abuse, and coercion upon which a victim can further sue the perpetrator. But with most cases coming from families of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin, it is unlikely that anything will change. The UK has excused otherwise illegal activities by these groups for fear of “alienating,” “radicalizing,” or offending their cultural sensibilities. Schools have refused to display warning posters produced by the forced marriage unit without any recourse from the government; and according to a report by Centre for Social Cohesion, a non-partisan think-tank that studies issues related to community cohesion in Britain, women who do go to authorities to seek protection have been tracked down by leaks from Asian officers colluding with families.

The Act brings a far bigger question into mind as well. What of those marriages the Act dissolves? Last April for example, a fifteen year old girl was forced to marry a forty year old man with the mental age of five. Her mother-in law forced her into prostitution and invited men over to rape the girl before she managed to escape. This marriage was not recognized by the Home Office but was and is still recognized by the Sharia courts that flourish in the UK. Moreover, what will the government do when foreign clerics defend the marriage of minor girls as one in Saudi Arabia did, or when another says its ok to rape your wife? Given that Sharia courts are binding in the UK, this Act seems even more meaningless.

Thus, once again, when a government justifies human rights abuses as an acceptance of “cultural diversity,” the attempt to absolve itself through the Forced Marriage Act is not worth the paper it is written on. The UK has created a state within a state where an individual’s rights depends on their religion. A piece of legislation that touts that it is “not okay” to force someone to marry another is meaningless without a legal system that does not excuse human rights abuses based on supposed religious tolerance.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who will check that the Sharia courts do not breach other legislation? Are Sharia courts self-regulating? Does British law have to become Sharia-compliant? Will the Houses of Parliament consider Sharia before drafting new legislation?

Une mess de potage, Je pense.

7 March 2009 at 10:16  
Blogger Gnostic said...

There can be no tolerance for the acceptance of any aspect of Sharia law within the framework of UK law. The fact that British courts currently accept even the most palatable (?) parts of Sharia is anathema to British way of life.

When in Rome do as the Romans do. I know this is an old cliche but it bears a heavy relevance here. People should not be allowed to come to this country and insist that they obey laws alien to this country. If they want to live by "old country" laws then maybe Western culture isn't for them and they should return home. Islamists have no right to twist our laws to suit themselves, the government has no reasonable right to allow them this precedent and we have the right to prevent them from doing so without being labelled as racists or worse.

As for arranged marriages. Any woman or girl who has been coerced into such a marriage against her will and had it consumated has been raped. How else can you describe forced marriage sex?

Any law pussy-footing around this fact, purporting to sooth religious belief, isn't worth the paper it's printed on. Rape is rape, there's no other way to wrap it up. Anyone conspiring to commit such an act should be subject to the full force of the law. Honour killings are treated as murder with little recourse to religious belief. Why should forced marriage and subsequent rape be different?

UK Law should be the prevailing law. Anything else is completely unacceptable. We owe it to these women to protect them. We also owe it to the families who condone such barbarity to send the message that we, the British people, will not tolerate this behaviour within our society.

Trust New Labour to produce such half-arsed (apologies Your Grace) legislation. It's scandalous.

I will now have a soothing cup of tea and await the arrival of the Thought Police...

7 March 2009 at 10:46  
Blogger RonB said...

The laws of any land should reflect the beliefs of the people who live there.
As the population of this land called England changes so will the laws. There is no reason why the name of this land shouldn’t also change to reflect the new population.
So if the population wants Sharia, why not? However that should not hinder the struggle against it and its underpinning religion.

7 March 2009 at 11:11  
Anonymous mckenzie said...

They have figured out a basic flaw in our political system.


All parties will have to confront this dilemma somehow. How will the Tories do it?

7 March 2009 at 11:11  
Anonymous mckenzie said...

The Tories need to get the disenfranchised back into the polling booth, or else they can not possibly hope to win without the Mosie vote. So far, the only person who has been known to resurrect the dead was Jesus, and I don't think he is running for office any time soon.

7 March 2009 at 11:17  
Blogger Gnostic said...

All the Tories need to do is take an honest to goodness stand against the EU and political correctness and actually mean what they say. I'd beat a path down to the polling station to put my X on the ballot form.

Dumping Clarke out on his fat, Europhiliac backside would be a sign of good faith...

7 March 2009 at 11:27  
Anonymous mckenzie said...

Nick Griffin has managed to perform CPR on many of the dying disenfranchised, but so far I am unconvinced that there is any Labour defection of any noteworthy effect taking place. One effect is that the BNP could help the Tory policy of 'say nothing', because it provides an extreme contrast and bête noire to distract attention from the debate. Fear seems to be the name of the game for everyone these days, but this may prove to be an unpredictable strategy as tolerance sets in with our nervous systems. Given what is being pumped out by the media, you would expect people to be protesting a bit more than they are, but I think people have become brainwashed by it all and genuinely feel that much of the propaganda is inevitable, so they do nothing.

The games can't go on for ever, and there will be a day of reckoning up. The web of deceit is now ridiculously tangled to the point where anything goes. I think the world is heading for one of those Biblical earthquakes, a real-life shake up.

7 March 2009 at 12:03  
Anonymous mckenzie said...

Choose any party you like, and volunteer to do a bit of door canvassing for them during a local election. Then stand at the polling station all day and observe who it is that comes to vote. You will then understand the meaning of the 'political dead'.

I have canvassed for the BNP in the past, and there is no shortage of people telling you that they can't wait to vote for you. But on the day, they are nowhere to be seen, and I mean nowhere, they are not voting end of story.

If you don't like what you hear about Shite Law, or whatever it is called, then you need to do something about it, engage the Grey matter. Blogging in here can seem like simple moaning, but if there is any chance of resurrecting the dead before it is too late, then, well, any chance is better than no chance. Trouble is though, I am not convinced that the 'dead' are doing much blogging: dead means dead.

7 March 2009 at 12:29  
Blogger Nick Gulliford said...

Concerning the Forced Marriage [Civil Protection] Bill, I wrote to Lady Verma [13th June 2007]:

"Dear Lady Verma

I am pleased to see you are proposing the following amendment:

"63RA Training and guidance

The Secretary of State shall lay before Parliament biannually a report detailing the expenditure on for the preceding two years and projected expenditure for the next year."

I was also pleased to see that the original draft Bill was amended to include:

"The Secretary of State may from time to time prepare and publish guidance to such descriptions of persons as the Secretary of State considers appropriate."

However, I don't think that is sufficiently specific about what guidance should be given to celebrants [Registrars and clergy] about preparation for marriage by engaged couples.

Your colleague Conservative vice chairman Sayeeda Warsi has said

"Forced marriages must become "socially unacceptable"

I believe forced marriages will become "unacceptable" when marriage preparation is "socially acceptable".

Even at this late stage would you would be willing to enlist some support to improve the Bill even further?

As it stands the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Bill is still deficient.

Whilst the civil remedies are to be welcomed, the Bill should include specific guidance towards marriage preparation and not rely upon the Secretary of State to publish it.

How can a Registrar distinguish between a couple entering an arranged marriage from a forced one, unless the couple have undertaken a valid assessment with a suitable facilitator who is willing to sign a certificate that he/she believes the couple have completed the programme in good faith?

If the original authors of the Bill and the Government who have decided to support it are really intent upon trying to prevent forced marriages – and not just provide remedies - they should follow the example of the Healthy Marriage Initiative in the US and include some guidance in the use of suitable pre-marital assessment tools.

Based on what happened to the attempts to have provision for marriage preparation included in the Family Law Act of 1996, no one except a horse marine will believe people can rely upon the Secretary of State in any government getting around to giving guidance to persons exercising public functions concerning marriage, though I appreciate your amendment is helpful in keeping the Secretary of State up to the mark.

Additional clauses should be added to section 2 of the draft Bill concerning 'guidance', which starts with 2 (a) the difference between arranged and forced marriage:

(e) the opportunities and advantages for the parties to participate together in a research-based educational programme of marriage preparation - including an assessment tool or pre-marital inventory that meets international standards.

(f) this programme is to assist them in preparing for a healthy marriage and to:

1. confirm to the Registrar or deputy Registrar the voluntary nature of their commitment to the marriage, and

2. protect themselves and each other against any possible accusations about the marriage being one that is forced or bogus.

(g) the advantage of obtaining a certificate from the facilitator of the programme of marriage preparation that they have satisfactorily completed both the educational programme and the inventory.

The purpose of the Bill is described as:

“Make provision for protecting individuals against being forced to enter into marriage without their free and full consent; and for connected purposes.”

Let it be changed to do just that."

There is no sign yet that "Forced marriages must become "socially unacceptable". If it were so the legislation would have been framed differently.

There is just a hint that 'marriage preparation' will become 'socially acceptable'. The Conservatives have proposed that in conjunction with the Local Government Association [which they control] Registrars will be asked to signpost couples to relationship education and support programmes.

But the history of such efforts suggests that when it eventually emerges, it will be a milk and water affair.

7 March 2009 at 12:33  
Anonymous mckenzie said...

Well done Nick Guilford. I have just checked out you profile, and you seem like a decent bloke who is prepared to make a stand for what yo believe in. We have to speak out more, write more letters etc, doing nothing is not an option if you care. However, I have noticed that you have been a blogger since September 2003, and yet have only attracted 337 profile views. This is part of the dilemma. I am not suggesting you court controversy, but it helps, as I have noticed, and so it seems, the author of this blog also.

Keep up the good work though, and do not be discouraged by anything. Doing anything is better than doing nothing. Be under no illusion, we are in trouble.

7 March 2009 at 12:58  
Anonymous Kwelos said...


Everything you ever wanted to know about Islam but were too politically correct to ask!

7 March 2009 at 13:02  
Blogger Nick Gulliford said...

It is kind of mckenzie to offer encouragement.

At the risk of boring His Grace, maybe he and others may like to reflect upon the lead given by the Church of England to couples contemplating matrimony.

No doubt the Archbishop will recall the Review of the Year by Dr David Edwards, Provost Emeritus of Southwark, for The 1997 Church of England Year Book. It contains a reference to pre-marital couples and to a certificate or agreement between them before marriage:

"It would be no panacea, but it might be useful, if it was made compulsory for the couple to sign and keep a certificate that the main obligations of a marriage between Christians, put in plain language, had been discussed and accepted."

In other words, couples need to identify - and sometimes to clarify - their understanding of the concept of marriage, whether or not they invoke Christian tradition. If this evaluation does not lead to broad agreement over the most significant issues, they will be wise not to marry, because the outcome is unlikely to be satisfactory.

The CofE has not adopted the suggestion made by Dr David Edwards, so perhaps our Muslim friends can be forgiven for continuing their own traditions when marrying in this country.

What can be done to facilitate the process of discussion and evaluation that couples should undertake? What are the requirements of Canon Law? Are there already instruments available that will enable these provisions to be met?

The three Canons of the Church of England concerning the duty of a minister to prepare couples for marriage are set out in B30:

1. The Church of England affirms, according to our Lord's teaching, that marriage is in its nature a union permanent and life-long, for better for worse, till death them do part, of one man with one woman, to the exclusion of all others on either side, for the procreation and nurture of children, for the hallowing and right direction of the natural instincts and affections, and for the mutual society, help and comfort which the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity.

2. The teaching of our Lord affirmed by the Church of England is expressed and maintained in the Form of Solemnization of Matrimony contained in the Book of Common Prayer.

3. It shall be the duty of the minister, when application is made to him for matrimony to be solemnized in the church of which he is minister, to explain to the two persons who desire to be married the Church's doctrine of marriage as herein set forth, and the need of God's grace in order that they may discharge aright their obligations as married persons.

Provided that one of the two people satisfies a residence qualification in the parish, and there is no other impediment, there is a legal obligation on the minister to perform the ceremony. It follows, some ministers argue, that couples cannot be required to undertake any programme of marriage preparation.

1. The minister may say (in effect) "Sit down and listen while I explain. This will take as long as is necessary.” But paragraph 3 [B30] speaks of 'the duty .... to explain ..... the doctrine .... as herein set forth'.

Faced by a couple who are reluctant to find out how 'they may discharge aright their obligations as married persons', other ministers offer a clear choice.

The Minister will say, “It is necessary for me to fulfil my duty to inform you about the teaching of our Lord that is affirmed by the Church of England. The more reluctant you are to hear this, the longer it will take, but I am not willing to marry you unless I have fulfilled my duty".

2. "Alternatively you can complete this process much more quickly, thoroughly and effectively if you undertake together a research-based pre-marital inventory of your relationship, either with me or with a mentor couple from our congregation. This will enable you to evaluate how you really feel about each other and give you a chance to decide whether you are ready to commit yourselves in the way that is envisaged in marriage. This process, together with some explanations I shall provide, will therefore help you to 'discharge aright your obligations'".

It is most unlikely that a couple could successfully claim that a minister was in breach of his statutory obligation to marry them if they had refused to attend to his explanation of Christian marriage. It is a moot point as to whether the duty to marry is greater than the duty to explain. It is also the case that the minister has no obligation to accede to any request for a particular day or time of day for the wedding, so effectively the minister can (theoretically) dictate when it is to take place and whether facilities such as organist, choir or bells are to be available. It follows that the minister does have considerable powers of persuasion, which may be exercised with a recalcitrant couple.

In practice, in virtually all conceivable circumstances, a minister and a couple will normally agree about all aspects of a wedding, including the preparation beforehand, even if the minister is convinced that it is his duty to provide or make available an adequate programme of marriage preparation of his choosing.

If CofE ministers all gave a good lead on marriage preparation it would be much more likely that Registrars would want to signpost couples having civil weddings to programmes likely to identify potentially forced or otherwise violent marriages.

So in combating the possible extension of any unwelcome aspects of Sharia values in the UK, the CofE has a significant role to play by example.

7 March 2009 at 16:01  
Blogger Gordon said...

The dead do vote. It's just normally a postal vote for Labour

7 March 2009 at 17:53  
Blogger Homophobic Horse said...

It's over for Britain.

7 March 2009 at 18:16  
Blogger Dr.D said...

How utterly lame!

England is simply saying, "Bring it on!" to the muzlims! Surely you will get it in spades. Do enjoy!!

Those unwilling to defend their liberty have no right to it.

7 March 2009 at 18:48  
Anonymous len said...

British law is for British citizens.
If anyone is unhappy with that situation they should go to a country that satisfies them.
British citizens, throughout their history have spend hundreds of years and countless lives preserving the freedoms that existed in this country.
We are sacrificing our freedoms for what? to set up an Islamic state?
Sharia law is something from the dark ages totally opposed to a christian democracy!.
Our Justice system should apply to everyone , no exceptions!!!

7 March 2009 at 19:08  
Anonymous Nelson said...

Gentlemen & Your Grace.
Perhaps the comments made by the Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd may be of interest to you, & of some guidance to the spineless, useless crowd of timorous weaklings who currently presume to call themselves the government. He states that everybody is welcome to enter his country as long as they come in peace, they are free to worship as they wish, but the national religion is Christian. The law of the the land is not open to question, & Sharia is not an option. people are free to come to Australia & live in peace, but if they do not agree with the preceding they are just as free to leave. I'm sure that the full speech can be viewed on Google. I wonder if it's possible to transfer Kevin Judd to Westminster F.C (Fools Club) when the next transfer window opens? Anyone for a whipround?

7 March 2009 at 19:38  
Anonymous Know thine enemy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7 March 2009 at 19:58  
OpenID BL@KBIRD said...

You grafted sharia law into Britain. But just a small piece of the tumor to soothe the restive Asians.

It's best that none of you look into the structure and laws of Islam, else your sleep be impaired.

7 March 2009 at 21:26  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The root cause of this whole legal dillema is that there there still remains a majority of white Anglo-Saxons in the UK. Please, Anglo-Saxons, could you all just bury yourselves under a rock, or take a collective trip to the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland? Then, once you're all gone, issues such as this will no longer be a cause for debate and disagreement, and we'll be free to run your country as we like, without your pathetic moaning and groaning.

Seriously, we would probably respect you (at least a little bit) if you showed the slightest inclination to fight and to stand up for your history and culture. But you don't. You actively welcome our invasion! We only have to cough and you whimper like mice. I don't understand it at all. There is no honour for us in fighting against cowards and mice, and besides, on a practical note, the cost of sword-sharpening is becoming atrocious these days. So off to Dignitas with you all.

8 March 2009 at 04:16  
Blogger Gnostic said...

If your opponent is choleric of temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak so that he may grow arrogant. Sun Tzu

I'd say that part of the plan seems to be working nicely, don't you? ;)

8 March 2009 at 09:22  
Anonymous DB said...

A pedantic infidel writes...

The word "sharia" should not have a capital letter. The Oxford Manual of Style and the Guardian Stylebook both give it as lower case. Also, for future reference, it's "imam" and not "Imam".

8 March 2009 at 11:06  
Anonymous Adrian P said...

The EuroMed aggreement signed in 1997 promises UNLIMITED Muslim immigration into Europe.
2 EU MEP's have stated, we should be nice to muslims so that when they become the Majority, they will be nice to us.

The Popes Aid has said, 'Attempts to Islamify Western europe Cannot be denied.

I mean just how much evidence do people want.

The Lib Lab Cons are all part of this, do you hear any of them speaking out about it.
There is only one party fighting this and if you do not do what is necessary, then when your children are persecuted under Sharia Law as Infidels then

8 March 2009 at 16:49  
Blogger Homophobic Horse said...

"There is only one party fighting this"

I know Adrian, and it scares the shit out of me, the BNP are seriously shite, but they're the only ones tackling this matter of existential importance. We're going to end up like Serbia, voting for a Milosovic because there's no other choice.

8 March 2009 at 17:03  
OpenID brianakira said...

Please see:

“UK: Iranian Anti-Christ Communist Rally a Smashing Success”

9 March 2009 at 09:16  
Blogger ZZMike said...

BL@KBIRD: "You grafted sharia law into Britain."

There's an old Arab saying about a camel's nose in the tent.

9 March 2009 at 20:25  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A state within a state, a culture totally opposed to us within our culture.
A recipe for disaster.
This thing is growing like a cancer.

11 March 2009 at 07:53  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kevin Rudd is a terrible PM and a useless PC twat. He is bankrupting Australia in a very short time.

In any case, the speech to which you refer was made by the former Australian Treasuer, Peter Costello, a conservative politician, not by Rudd.

12 March 2009 at 06:02  

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