Forced marriage: Victims will no longer have to take out loans

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Dupes of forced marriages overseas will no longer have to take out advances to pay for their return to the UK.

It emerged last week in an investigation by The Times that those powerless to cover flights, food and shelter were made to take out an difficulty loan.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the policy was varying as victims “may have endured particular suffering”.

Existing loans command be written off and the women’s passports returned.

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Mr Hunt said the Non-native Office would try to get most repatriation costs covered by imposing styled Forced Marriage Protection Orders on the people and families who arranged the stiff marriage.

But the small number who would have had to take out a loan pass on now have their repatriation costs paid for by the Foreign Office.

Between 2016 and 2017, 82 child were repatriated with the support of the government’s Forced Marriage Constituent. Of those victims, between 8 and 12 had to take out loans.

When the Times reported the practice, MPs condemned the loans as “astonishing” and “immoral”.

‘Travel against desires’

Mr Hunt said: “Whereas the Foreign Office rightly expects that adult Britons who take home consular assistance will, in general, pay for their own travel home, sufferers of forced marriage may have endured particular suffering.

“They require often have travelled abroad against their wishes, or beneath false pretences.”

Mr Hunt said the unit’s staff “carry out sincerely necessary work” and added: “Our treatment of vulnerable Britons abroad should ever be guided by compassion.”

Mr Hunt revealed the policy change in a letter to the chairman of the Unfamiliar Affairs Committee, Tom Tugendhat.

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