I’ve created a new category on the visa age to keep track of the different posts I’ve written on this subject over the last couple of years.
The Home Office have provided further reasons for rejecting the research that found that increasing the spouse visa age would be harmful to victims of forced marriage. In fairness, I feel I ought to post them up. The reasons looks very weak to me, but you can judge for yourself.
The reasons certainly do not deal with the fact that all of the acknowledged experts and the actual survivors of forced marriage interviewed by the research team thought there were substantial risks in increasing the visa age. For example, it is said that:
Participants from some groups might perceive the study as instrumental in further restricting immigration and in potentially interfering with cultural practices around arranged marriages.
I can’t see how this applies to Bradford police, IND Croydon and Sheffield or the Forced Marriage Unit. Criticising the study for ‘only’ taking place in three study areas (Birmingham, Manchester and Tower Hamlets) is ridiculous, as is the alleged ‘sample bias’ to South Asian populations. It is widely thought that forced marriage is a particular problem in that community, but the researchers were very careful to look at the issue of forced marriage in other communities. See section 4 of the report on methodology:
In addition, so that information regarding the practice and perceptions of forced marriage from a wider range of communities might be obtained, 15 focus groups were carried out with 97 individuals (82 women and 15 men) from South Asian, Chinese, Middle Eastern, African, Irish and lesbian friendly communities, and including a range of religious communities: Hindu, Christian, Sikh and Muslim, with a minority of respondents identifying themselves as atheists or non believers. Ages ranged from 15 to 60 and participants were also from different social classes. Where respondents were not British, they had a variety of immigration statuses, including indefinite leave to remain, refugee, work permit, dependent visa and student visa.
The Home Office reasons are woefully unconvincing, as was the pathetic so-called statistical ‘research’ that was relied on to justify the measure. It genuinely disgusts me that ministers are willing to dress up deliberate immigration reduction measures as serving to protect victims of forced marriages when in fact good research and the government’s own experts show that the opposite is true.