Target: Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Theresa May
Goal: End practice of forcing victims of forced marriage to pay for their repatriation to the UK.
A British citizen who was forced into a marriage in Pakistan was then required to repay the British government £814 ($1,004 USD) for flights back to the UK in order to escape her marriage. The woman, who remains unnamed, was reportedly forced into a violent marriage at the age of 16. Attempting to escape the marriage, she made excuses that allowed her to travel to the British embassy in Islamabad. With her husband waiting outside with a gun, she appealed to Foreign Office officials to help her return to the UK. However, before Foreign Office officials agreed to aid her, following government policy, they required her to surrender her passport and sign a loan agreement pledging to repay the cost of her repatriation.
Victims of forced marriages are often married at young ages and lack the resources to escape. As their families are supportive of the marriage, they cannot rely on traditional support networks to settle the cost of their repatriation. This can leave them with little to no support network and few resources. In these cases, charging victims for their repatriation just creates more barriers for escape and may trap people in abusive forced marriages, endangering their lives.
Sign the petition below and demand that the Foreign Office drop all repatriation charges for victims of forced marriages.
Dear Prime Minister May,
I was shocked to read that the Foreign Office charged a woman attempting to escape from an abusive forced marriage for her repatriation. Most victims of forced marriage lose any support network if they attempt to end the marriage; Charging them hundreds of pounds for passage to safety is both morally unacceptable and counterproductive as it raises further barriers to their escape. This can and will trap women in abusive relationships, endangering their lives.
As Home Secretary, you spearheaded the criminalization of forced marriage and presided over an increase in convictions. I urge you to continue to uphold the rights of women by directing the Foreign Office to end repatriation charges in cases involving forced marriages.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: UK Home Office