Sometimes it is necessary to change their appearance. “If they look modern, then we might give them a makeover to make them look more traditional. If they are more traditional with the hijab, we try to take them to the parlour and change their hairstyle, change their shoes, everything. “It is very, very dangerous for them escaping from home and there is always a danger of being identified.” Other than makeovers they have to be careful when travelling to the airport. When they arrive back in the UK, the next stage of their uncertain future will begin. But those – like Nazia who is now back in the UK – are the lucky ones. The organisation has been involved in investigations around the murder of teenagers who were being forced into marriage. Escape The UK’s Forced Marriage Unit and charities working in the field say that although Pakistan may have the biggest number of forced marriages it is by no means the only country. This is an issue that crosses every border, religion, race, age and class. Sara: “It was like you’re an item to sell, to see what they can get” Teenagers like Sara – not her real name – are all too aware of this. She was meant to be married off to a man twice her age in India over the summer. “In exchange for [a] dowry he was going to give me land, a house, gold and all the wedding expenses,” she said. Sara says it made her feel like an object – “like being sold or exchanged”. She managed to escape to a refuge in the UK before the wedding. School holidays Aneeta Prem from the Freedom Charity, which helps raise awareness of forced marriage in schools, says it is vital that the government keep accurate numbers of children who fail to return after school holidays.
UK payday lenders face crackdown
This month could prove to be one of the wettest on recordPhoto: REUTERS/Olivia Harris 11:11AM BST 05 Oct 2013 Comments With many areas seeing as much as an inch of rain falling in an hour, people can look forward to a drier couple of days. The Met Office issued a severe weather warning as rain battered much of the UK, but it is set to dry up today for the weekend. Charles Powell, a forecaster at the Met Office, said a lot of the rain that sparked the warnings has already fallen, and said today will be the start of a “gradual change”. “It sets the scene for a much more settled spell over the weekend,” he said. Claire Austin, a meteorologist at MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: “We had quite a bit yesterday. There’s been quite a nasty band of rain moving across the country. Related Articles 20 Sep 2013 “As we go through the afternoon it is an improved picture.” The yellow warnings of rain from the Met Office – advising people to “be aware” – are in place for much of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. A large area of England has also been issued with the same warning, with the North West, North East and Yorkshire escaping it. The yellow warning is in place until 8am on Saturday. The Met Office said the public should be aware of the risk of localised flooding, with outbreaks of heavy, thundery rain expected to spread from the South overnight. The Environment Agency has issued five flood alerts for the South West and one flood alert for the North East. A spokeswoman for the Environment Agency said: “Widespread heavy rain is expected to spread from the south west of England today and into tomorrow. “This has the potential to cause localised significant flooding across Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, although other areas may also be at risk. “Environment Agency staff will continue to closely monitor the situation and teams are out working to minimise river flood risk, clearing debris from streams and unblocking culverts.
The Pakistani refuge rescuing UK girls from forced marriage
View gallery A new UK financial watchdog has unveiled curbs on payday lenders it will bring in next April when it takes responsibility for the A2 bn sector (AFP Photo/) October 3, 2013 5:45 AM London (AFP) – A new UK financial watchdog on Thursday unveiled curbs on payday lenders it will bring in next April when it takes responsibility for the A2bn a year sector. Lenders will have to carry out an affordability check on borrowers and will only be able to roll over loans — when borrowers pay a fee to delay paying them back — twice, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announced. It plans to limit what lenders can say in adverts and will have the power to ban any misleading campaigns. In the wake of claims that some lenders are draining cash from borrowers’ accounts to make sure they get their interest repayments, they will only be able to debit two payments over the course of a loan agreement. “The clock is ticking,” said Martin Wheatley, the FCA’s chief executive. “Today I am putting payday lenders on notice: tougher regulation is coming and I expect them all to make changes so that consumers can get a fair outcome. The clock is ticking.” Next April, the FCA will take over from the Office of Fair Trading as regulator of 50,000 consumer credit firms, which also includes businesses providing overdrafts, credit cards and debt advice. The OFT, in a recent investigation of its own, found “deep-rooted” problems in the payday loan industry, including that some businesses models were based on giving loans to people who cannot afford to pay them back. The Competition Commission is currently investigating the payday loan industry and is due to report at the end of next year. The FCA’s new rules were welcomed by Martin Lewis, founder of consumer help website MoneySavingExpert.com. “Parasitical payday lenders have taken over our high streets in the last five years. Our lax rules have made the UK a crock of gold and they’ve flooded in from across the world,” he said. “For those of us who’ve been crying out for a crackdown, this hardcore regulation, while not perfect, is very welcome.” Finance