Honesty in Keighley
Despite disagreeing with MP Ann Cryer on virtually every other issue, I would like to acknowledge her honesty and bravery on the issue of forced marriage, an issue which disappeared from British life centuries ago, but which has reared its ugly head in recent decades.
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.
Mrs 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". . .
Mrs 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.