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Forced marriages and age


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forced-marriageTwo more things on this topic. One, I’ve belatedly discovered that UKBA released a draft version of the research report covered previously on this blog. The final version is in fact a more polished piece of work. One can only assume that UKBA deliberately released the less polished version in order to undermine it somehow.

Secondly, an interesting article has been published in the journal Feminist Legal Studies on age as a risk factor in forced marriages. I’m not normally an avid reader of this journal, I admit, but the article is well worth reading if you are interested in the subject. The authors are two of the researchers commissioned by the Home Office for the suppressed report. It’s an academic piece but here are just some of the interesting ideas raised:

  1. Forced marriage should be seen as a species of domestic violence. Age would never usually be said to be a risk factor in other types of domestic violence cases as it is accepted that women of all ages can be victims. Why is this reasoning not applied to forced marriage cases, where there is evidence to suggest that applies equally?
  2. The increase in the spouse visa age is based on the ‘common sense’ presumption that with age comes ‘maturity’ and independence. However, maturity is a cultural concept. For example, in many Asian families moving away from parents is not considered to be a sign of maturity but of something dysfunctional.

  3. One perceived benefit of the visa age increase was allowing young people to complete their education. This ignores several considerations, including that marriage and education are not mutually exclusive, lots of people do not pursue higher education but will still not be able to live with their spouses in the UK.

  4. The change has a disproportionate effect on minority communities and reinforces racist stereotypes. In short, it is discriminatory.

These are just a few points I’ve taken away from the article, though. As I said, I’d recommend reading it yourself.

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The Free Movement blog was founded in 2007 by Colin Yeo, a barrister at Garden Court Chambers specialising in immigration law. The blog provides updates and commentary on immigration and asylum law by a variety of authors.


4 Responses

  1. This age law seems ridiculous, how is it going to prevent forced marriages in any way? it just stops people within a forced marriage under the age of 21 from living in the Uk, meaning they will probably be forced to go live abroad until they reach that age. Surely its against the human rights of those people under the age of 21 who have entered into a marriage of consent under the age of 21 who want to settle permanently in the UK?
    I thought so, however my husband was refused soley on the grounds that I am not yet 21. Even though when we applied the law was still 18. We meet every other requirement except for the age, but still we are refused and have to wait just over 2 years until im 21.
    I’ve created a facebook group committed to making people aware of this law and to try and lower the age again. Join if you agree!


    1. It is ridiculous. There are several legal challenges to the change going on right now but it may be a few months before we have any outcomes one way or the other, I’m afraid. I’ll certainly be posting up information about it when I hear anything.

    2. I agree with Clara, the reasoning behind the raise in spouse visa age is very ridiculous. In my case, I don’t just have a wife abroad but also have a daughter too…CAN YOU IMAGINE WHAT I AM GOING THROUGH NOT BEING ABLE TO SEE MY DAUGHTER GROW UP? WELL I AM GOING THROUGH HELL AND ON THE VERGE OF DEPRESSION TO BE FRANK! Freemovement has given me more hope by saying “There are several legal challenges to the change going on right now”. I just pray something is done AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! PLEASE KEEP ME UPDATED AS THIS IS ALL THAT I THINK ABOUT DAY IN DAY OUT! THANKS

  2. I have to wonder if Clara’s application was accepted by the clearance post at the time of the old rules ie 18,and the final decision delayed and made under the new rules.
    This is the type of thing that should be looked into by Mr Vine,the chief inspector of ukba.
    When changes are made to the rules,it appears that it’s the time of the decision which counts,rather than the time the application is submitted.This leaves it open to abuse and should really be the other way around.
    I couldn’t prove that our application was retained over three weeks to reach the new banning rule last year.However it left me feeling well and truly robbed,as i was paying for it from this side of the water.Totally unacceptable really.