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Earn 25k if you want to bring a spouse from ‘back home’

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A few women, with whom I was tweeting, were discussing the subject of marrying a foreign-born spouse which they believe, and I concur, is more difficult for women than men (differences in education and mentality, etc.).

They also believe that the legislation proposed in 2011 by the government, along with raising the age of both parties to 21, before being able to bring over a foreign spouse would deter parents from marrying someone from ‘back home’ i.e. the indian subcontinent.

The government’s migration advisory committee recommended that those wishing to bring a spouse or child to live in Britain on a family visa should have a minimum salary before tax of between £18,700 and £25,700 to ensure a burden is not placed on the state.

The largest group of people banned from coming to Britain under the proposal would be women from India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh. Although the US ranks third in the list of countries of origin of family visas, it is thought most sponsors would qualify under the new salary thresholds. Almost 50,000 family visas are granted to immediate relatives of British residents every year.

It is a start, that I will admit. Certainly it will prevent what my friends will call ‘rudeboys’ on the dole from bringin over a spouse from abroad.

But I do not actually think it will change that much. Female Genital Mutilation is banned in Egypt and yet the custom is still prevalent in the country. Why? Because it is not not just legislation we need to change, but people’s mentalities.

Asian parents in this country still believe that a foreign-born spouse would make an ideal partner for their child, not on the grounds of compatibility, but because of family honour. After all, what better way to strengthen one’s family ties than marriage?

This is not restricted to the parents. There are still many Asian men, born and brought up here, who believe that woman from ‘back home’ make better wives: they’re less likely to challenge their husbands and his ways, and they’ll stay at home to look after their ageing in-laws.British born Asian girls, in their eyes, are all whores and have forgotten their ‘roots’.

The legislation that was brought in to raise the age limit of anyone calling over a spouse to 21 did not actually deter such marraiges. Too often I have seen girls in the UK (key word being ‘girls’) being married in a ceremony in Pakistan or Bangladesh (almost always to a cousin) and then going back to the UK and waiting several years before they can call their spouse over.

As a result, the girls are stuck in limbo. They cannot move to their husband’s home (which is the tradition) because guess what – he lives abroad. So they stay in their parent’s homes, married but not quite married-off.

This is why legislation, in my opinion, will change little. Far from deterring parents from marrying their children to a cousin in their own homeleand, parents and perhaps even the spouses, will think, ‘What’s a few more years in waiting, we can save up money in the meantime’.

Which brings me to another issue, which is that of the girls/women here supporting their foreign husbands. It is simply unfair. And considering South Asian cultures ‘pride’ themselves on retaining traditional male/female roles, is it not hypocritical for the women to be supporting the men financially while still expected to fulfil ‘traditional’ domestic role too? 

So while the legislation is a start, I do not believe it will change much. Legislation is not enough when it is the people’s mentalities that need to be changed first. And changing mentalities is a lot harder to do.

Written by Iram Ramzan

May 8, 2012 at 9:46 pm

Posted in politics, south asian, UK

Tagged with ,

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