There are reports that scores of youngsters in Great Britain who have learning disabilities are being forced into marriages in order to help a spouse gain a passport into the UK. The majority of cases reported involve families from Pakstan, Bangladesh and India. Spouses are not always told about the disability and only discover the truth when they first meet, usually that is at the wedding. The Foreign Office’s Forced Marriage unit deal with 400 such cases last year and more than 80 of these involved people with learning disabilities.
Most probably there are two factors involved in such marriage arrangements, one is the opportunity for a male to obtain a passport allowing entry into the United Kingdom. The other is a way for the family to ensure the child with a disability will be looked after when the parents are dead. Many Sanghera, a social worker with voice UK, a charity which helps people with learning disabilities says, “in 15 years I have worked with more than 100 people with learning disabilities forced into marriage, from South Africa, African and Middle Eastern communities.”