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Miliband visits town notorious for ‘forced’ marriages

KALAR SYEDAN, Nov 26: British Foreign Secretary David Miliband on Tuesday visited this town which is notorious for ‘forced’ marriages between elderly British men of Pakistani origin and young Pakistani women and high divorce ratio among such couples.

Mr Miliband arrived in the town, about 40 kilometres away from Islamabad, amid tight security and met a select group of British nationals of Pakistani origin to discuss the problem relating to ‘forced marriages’.

Stressing the need for creating public awareness to discourage such marriages, he said the issue was creating social disharmony and the British government was keen to find a solution.

Referring to the recently promulgated Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act, he said it would enable courts to prevent such marriages and punish people forcing anyone into marriage. It also provided a way out for people forced into such marriages, he said.

A large number of local people and journalists wanted to meet Mr Miliband and inform him about aged Britons of Pakistani origins luring young girls by promising to help them settle abroad. A local man told this reporter that a large number of girls lured into marrying aged men were divorced usually from three to six months after the marriage.

Later, Mr Miliband also paid a short visit to the office of the town Nazim. DIG Rao Mohammad Iqbal and the DCO of Rawalpindi also attended the meeting.
Source: Dawn
Date:11/27/2008

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