The Guardian tells us today that fees to cover the repatriation of forced marriage victims overseas have been abolished. This clearly and obviously is not true as there never have been any fees for any such repatriation. In fact, there are no fees for repatriation under any circumstances. All there has ever been is this rather sensible idea that those who’d like a flight to the UK should perhaps pay for the flight to the UK rather than expecting the rest of us to pick up the bill as taxpayers. As we’ve mentioned before in fact.
It’s true that this requirement has been abolished:
Repatriation fees for forced marriage victims abolished
Campaigners had long said victims should not have to pay Foreign Office for their freedom
None of that’s true. There never have been fees and no one does have to pay the Foreign Office for their freedom. All that has ever been asked is that if you don’t have the cash for a ticket – or hotel room while waiting for one etc – and the Foreign Office lends you the money to get one then you should, in the fullness of time, repay the taxpayers who fronted you the loan. It’s not more outrageous, dubious or unfair than the idea that if you borrow £27,000 to get a degree then once your degree is got you pay back your student loan.
On Wednesday Hunt said in reply: “I have decided the victims of forced marriage who are helped to return to the UK by the Foreign Office forced marriage repatriation unit will no longer be asked to take out a loan for their repatriation costs.” He said the forced marriage unit was set up in 2005 on the basis that victims constituted a category of exceptionally vulnerable people in need of specific help. “From now none of those who are assisted by the forced marriage unit will have to cover the costs of their repatriation,” Hunt said. “Where possible, the government will continue to seek to ensure the costs fall on the perpetrators by means of the forced marriage protection orders.” The perpetrators are normally family members.
And isn’t that going to be fun? We’re going to prosecute – presumably in the civil courts as this is about debts and money – the parents of those children who required the repatriation. Which is going to open a whole can of worms, isn’t it? As an obvious defence against having to pay such a debt is for the parents to claim that there was nothing forced about the marriage in the first place.
Gonna be fun when the first “But she wanted to get married” defence is put forward, isn’t it?