UK MPs scared to object to forced marriages for fear losing Muslim vote: Retiring Labour MP

September 2nd, 2008 - 5:07 pm ICT by ANI  

Gordon Brown

London, Sept.2 (ANI): British politicians are too scared to speak out against forced marriages in case they lose valuable Muslim votes, according to a veteran Labour parliamentarian. Ann Cryer said politicians in areas with high Muslim populations, many of which are Labour heartlands, should be at the forefront of the campaign to stop young couples being made to wed against their will by their families.
But she claimed that some politicians are afraid to speak out on the issue in case they alienate Muslim voters.
The forced marriage unit at the Foreign Office deals with an estimated 300 cases every year, most of them involving teenage girls from Pakistani or Bangladeshi families.
Cryer, who is stepping down as MP for Keighley in West Yorkshire at the next general election, added that local Muslim leaders are not doing enough to encourage integration and accused them of trying to keep immigrants who move to Britain “in the backwoods”.
Cryer, 68, said: “There still is a nervousness to talk about this, especially those MPs in constituencies affected by these issues. They should be fighting on the front line, but they are the ones keeping quiet on the issue because they don”t want to lose votes.
Cryer has been at the forefront of efforts to ban forced marriages and honour killings. A law that she backed, the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act, which will come into effect this month, will help by giving women the right to apply for an injunction in court and prevent a ceremony going ahead.
Her campaigning has also led to the Government raising the minimum age for a marriage visa from 18 to 21.
When Cryer announced her retirement last week, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: “She knows every inch of her constituency and her understanding of its communities is second to none. (ANI)

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