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Forced marriage victims asked to pay rescue costs

British victims of forced marriages overseas are being asked by the Foreign Office to pay costs associated with their own rescue, it has been revealed.

An investigation by the Times found those unable to cover flights, food and shelter were made to take out a loan.

The Foreign Office said government rules meant all UK adults in difficulty aboard had to fund their repatriation.

But the heads of the Commons’ foreign and home affairs committees have criticised the practice for the women.

According to the report in the Times, British victims of forced marriage who ask for help abroad are informed about the costs.

UK officials will help them access their own funds, and contact friends, family or organisations that can assist them.

But if they cannot find the money, they are asked to sign emergency loan agreements before returning home.

The Times says a freedom of information request showed the Foreign Office helped 27 victims of forced marriage return to the UK in 2017 and 55 in 2016.

It reports the Foreign Office loaned £7,765 to at least eight victims in the past two years.

About £3,000 has been repaid, but debts of more than £4,500 are outstanding.

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