24 July 2009

Til red tape do us part

The new law designed to prevent forced marriages in the UK has unwittingly prompted the temporary end of one totally unforced marriage.

A Canadian woman, who has married an Englishman here, has to go back to Canada to renew her visa. Sadly, the new law means that she can't return to the UK and her new husband for 18 months, when she turns 21.

It's a horrible by-product of well-meaning legislation. But the lawmakers insist they can't make any special cases for fear of setting precedents. They have described this couple's situation as - wait for it - "an inconvenience".

That is the most woefully inadequate, soulless, uncaring reaction they could have come up with. They may as well have said "we couldn't give a shit, frankly".

The law was designed to end forced marriage, not to prevent or interrupt unforced ones. Given that this has been allowed to happen, why on earth wasn't the law drafted so that something like "in the presence of evidence or proof of a party being forced into marriage unwillingly" featured in its wording? That way someone like this poor Canadian lady would have been spared being parted from the man she loves without compromising the safety of those it was designed to protect.

What makes it worse is that it was delays by the authorities which stopped them marrying before her visa ran out. had they been more on the ball, there'd have been no problem.

And to call this issue "an inconvenience" is unforgivable. Whoever wrote and okayed that statement should be fired.

No comments: