Imams in UK Marrying 11-Year Olds to Foreign Men Over Skype
Tue, March 1, 2016
Illustrative picture. (Photo: © Creative Commons)
Certain Muslim communities in the UK have been marrying girls as young as 11 to older foreign men in countries such as Pakistan in remote ceremonies via Skype, according to the anti-forced marriage charity Freedom.
The girls are later “put on a plane and consummating the marriage at the earliest opportunity,” according to Freedom.
"The reason is to curb the behaviour of their children when they become 'too western'," the founder of Freedom Aneeta Prem told The Sunday Times.
"Once married, there is enormous pressure to get a spouse visa. The hope is the girl will visit (country of husband's origin) and fall pregnant to make the union seem more legitimate before bringing the partner back," she said.
It is unclear how the UK could grant a spousal visa to the husband of a child. Forced marriage is illegal in the UK.
Human rights campaigner Baroness Caroline Cox has been championing the Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) bill in the Houses of Parliament. This would regulate sharia courts and implement protections for women.
Sharia marriages are also the topic of a new book by esteemed academic and women’s rights activist Dr. Elham Manea, entitled Women and Sharia Law: The Impact of Legal Pluralism in the UK. The book goes into detail about issues surrounding sharia marriages in Britain and quotes one Imam as saying girls of 12 or 13 are “more or less fully-fledged women.”
“The fatwas and opinions of these men have grave consequences. A child will be raped in the name of religion. A woman will be beaten in the name of religion” Dr. Manea said in the book, according to The Daily Mail.