Conservatives plan to protect young foreign brides

My mother Loula (pic) was a wartime bride from Greece when she married my English father at 16, he was eight years older and stationed there as a soldier. She arrived in the UK alone  on a ship and couldn’t speak English following their very brief courtship and hastily arranged marriage. It had been love at first sight. 

She was one of only a few that remained in the same Cambridgeshire town, most other Greek brides went back disillusioned. Her parents had also planned to make their new home with her in the UK, but were not allowed to stay. 

I just wonder how she would fit in with the new Conservative plans to protect young foreign brides, the chances are she would be turned down, she would have ticked all the wrong boxes. And yes, it was a genuine love match, my father sadly died five years ago.

The Conservative plans outlined today by Damian Green, Shadow Immigration Minister, are obviously geared towards putting an end to forced marriages, mostly against Asian women, which end up abusive, and I wrote about here. 

They include making it harder for Britons to marry foreigners, that potential spouses should be over 21 and subject to English and citizenship tests. British citizens who want to marry abroad should be made to give the Home Office notice of their plans six months in advance to prevent fraudulent and forced marriages.

Sunny from Pickled Politics has eagerly been waiting for today’s announcement. She thinks that the minimum age for brides being brought here should be 24; the Home office only recently raised the minimum age from 16 to 18.

Controversially, Conservatives also want to prevent divorcees from marrying a second overseas person for up to 10 years, primarily to prevent men who marry serially to gain the dowry, and then abandon the women. I think this may be tricky, bearing in mind that we are such a multi-cultural society and it could prevent many genuine marriages too. Of the 41,560 spouses and fiancées who came to Britain in 2005, 39 per cent travelled from the Indian sub-continent.

This is an area the Home Office should have acted on swiftly and decisively and has constantly failed to address. I’m delighted Conservatives are sending out a strong message on this, that they genuinely want to help reduce the misery of countless vulnerable women, perhaps even young men too, who are forced to marry against their will. But we must not do that at the expense of preventing genuine love matches which cross racial divides.


  1. Is this really a matter for governments Ellee?

    We need less government not more interference in our lives.

  2. Echo Ruthie’s comment 100% (and was going to quote exactly the same text).

    This proposed measure obviously relates in part to the threat from radicalised Islam (cultural as much as physical), which is why similar measures have already been enacted elsewhere (e.g. Denmark – deeply unsympathetic BBC link here). While I don’t think such measures will do much to reduce the threat of “home grown” terrorism I do applaud the measure from a human rights perspective, and appreciate the balanced view you give in your post.

  3. Te thing is for some people in India, and Bangladesh or Pakistan it is still a dream to come to England. After all marry a local with few prospects, or marry a ‘local’ in England where even if he works in a curry house, he may have a three bedroom house and a £2000 Mercedes. Alas women and women’s relative still hope their daughters will be socially mobile – to ‘ensure’ a better returement if not pension for themselves.

    After that, it’s fifty fifty how gappy you are going to be. After all freedom to choose who you love, does not guarantee you’ll make the right choice, or that you’ll be loved back.

    In modern society as a rule we are just more casual about relationships, and move on to the next one. But sometimes you can get caught in a merry-go-round or roller coaster ride.

    In the end I think we all want some stability and to be able to trust our ‘partner’ …
    but the grass is always ‘greener’ on the other side, and that new neighbour in the garden next door does look rather good in her bikini
    Alas, temptation, temptation
    Should we deny urselves all the time
    or indulge in one more cream cake.
    Go on, yu know you want to – Naughty but Nice!

  4. It’s a good policy to stop forced marriages. To end prospective misery with someone they don’t know is right.

  5. “I’m delighted Conservatives are sending out a strong message on this, that they genuinely want to help reduce the misery of countless vulnerable women, perhaps even young men too, who are forced to marry against their will. But we must not do that at the expense of preventing genuine love matches which cross racial divides.”

    Well said.

    What a lovely picture of your mother, by the way.

  6. I hadn’t heard about the dowry problem before. In other cases, mightn’t it be better to make it easier for women to escape forced or abusive marriages after they arrive rather than banning marriages that may or may not be forced or abusive?


  1. The Wardman Wire » Forced Marriages - [...] 25/5/2007: Conservatives plan to protect young foreign brides [...]
  2. Pickled Politics » Tory announcements on marriages - [...] On the blogs, Elle Seymour, who’s mother was Greek, isn’t exactly jumping for joy. [...]

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