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In Britain, Young Muslim girls are being forced into marriage over Skype

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Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron speaks with Aneeta Prem from Freedom Charity (L) and Jasvinder Sanghera of Karwia Nirvana, during a meeting with the forced marriage unit in the Foreign Office in central London June 8, 2012. REUTERS/Jon Bond/Pool
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By Emma Batha

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation): Girls in Britain as young as 11 are being forced into marriage via the internet while others are being secretly wed over the phone, two charities said on Monday.

Imams in Britain and abroad have been conducting ceremonies using Skype to marry British girls remotely to men abroad, said the charity Freedom, which campaigns against forced marriage.

The new husband is often promised that he will get a visa to come to Britain.

In one case, an 11-year-old girl from London was married on Skype to a 25-year-old man in Bangladesh, Freedom’s founder Aneeta Prem said.

The girl, who hadn’t understood the significance of the Skype call at the time, contacted Freedom after reading a book about forced marriage by Prem that her brother was given at school.

“As soon as she was old enough the family were planning to take her out to consummate the marriage,” Prem said.

“She had been pulled out of school and was being taught to be a housewife.”

Prem said only a handful of internet marriages had come to light so far, but the number was increasing.

Forced marriages affect several communities in Britain, but Skype marriages only involve Muslim girls – other faiths require brides and grooms to be physically present during the ceremony, campaigners said.

Another case concerned a 13-year-old girl who said she was forced to marry an 18-year-old Iranian over Skype. A 17-year-old boy was also married on Skype after his family found out he had a white girlfriend.

“MARRIAGE BY PHONE”

Britain made forced marriage illegal in 2014. It is also a crime to take someone abroad to be married against their will.

Prem said Skype marriages were attractive to some families because the marriage was instant and they were less likely to get caught.

Karma Nirvana, another British charity which campaigns against forced marriage, said it had received calls to its helpline from girls who had been married off over the phone.

The girls often don’t realize the phone call is a marriage ceremony until their family tells them afterwards.

“Some victims have contacted us and said: ‘I’ve been married over the phone because my family think that I’m shaming them.’,” said Karma Nirvana founder Jasvinder Sanghera.

“The quickest way to marry someone off is not going to be taking them out to Pakistan, India, or wherever, the quickest way to get them into marriage is going to be over the phone.”

Karma Nirvana helpline manager Priya Manota estimated thousands of British girls under the age of 18 are being forced into marriage every year.

Britain’s Forced Marriage Unit confirmed it had come across cases of forced marriage being conducted by Skype.

“Forced marriage is an abhorrent practice which is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated in the UK, regardless of how it takes place,” the Home Office said.

It said forced marriages by Skype could be treated as an offense under the legislation.

(Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, which covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit news.trust.org to see more stories.)

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Will prohibiting Burqa result in freedom from under house arrest or religious bias?

According to Islam, it is not necessary to cover the face.

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Due to Burqa women can go and vote multiple times. This increases corruption in the election. Wikimedia Commons
Due to Burqa women can go and vote multiple times. This increases corruption in the election. Wikimedia Commons

In recent years there have been several incidents involving the Burqa. In 2009, a state college in Karnataka told a student she was not allowed to attend classes wearing a Burqa. It was later reported that the young girl reached a “compromise arrangement” with the college but did not continue in the same college. Days later, violent protests sparked in Hyderabad after a college principal allegedly told students not to wear a Burqa.

But opposite episodes have also occurred. In July 2010, a teacher at Kolkata’s Aliah University, which has a focus on Islamic studies, was not allowed to teach without a Burqa. The report followed an official notice released in April 2010, in which the university dismissed suggestions it enforced a dress code, mentioning specifically the use of the Burqa within its campus.

There is steep rise in the cases related to crime against burqa clad women. Wikimedia Commons
There is a steep rise in the cases related to crime against Burqa-clad women. Wikimedia Commons

At some point imposing a ban on Burqa will be beneficial…
Point 1:
According to Islam, it is not necessary to cover the face. Hands and face can be uncovered. So banning won’t conflict freedom of practicing religion. And it will not be against any religion.
Point 2:
There are security issues. Imagine man/women under burqa leaves a bag in a public place which later blasts. Now, what do police have? CCTV cameras, forget face they cannot determine if is it male or female due to Burqa. It is the biggest security Loophole.
Point 3:
Many Muslim women do not have a bank account because they are not allowed to cover their face in bank premises. If you didn’t know then yes you cannot cover your face with bank premises and ATM.
Point 4:
It’s easy to have multiple voters ID. Due to Burqa women can go and vote multiple times. This increases corruption in the election.
Point 5:
Crimes under Burqa are on the rise. Murder, kidnapping, robbery are been carried out using Burqa. It’s the biggest advantage for criminals.

What Noorjehan Safia says…
Noorjehan Safia Niaz, a founding member of Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, a movement which works to improve the status of Muslim women in India, said security concerns have not been a major issue when it comes to dressing. “Muslim women in India comply with all the laws. They are active participants when it comes to elections and has their photos on their passports. So identification and security have never been an issue as such,” she said.
Discrimination, however, has sometimes caused problems, said Ms. Niaz. “There are cases when women are not considered for a particular job because they wear a Burqa. In such cases, women have negotiated. They do not wear Burqa while at work but before and after it they put it on.” Overall, Ms. Niaz said that women themselves – not the law – should decide what to wear. “Let each woman decide what she wants to wear. Neither can you enforce a ban on Burqa nor can you force women to wear it.”