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British victims of forced marriages required to pay their rescue costs, The Times reports

Those unable to pay asked to sign loan agreements by Foreign Office

British victims of forced marriages overseas are required by the Foreign Office to pay the costs associated with their rescue, The Times has reported.

An investigation by the newspaper has revealed that UK officials will help them to access their own funds, and contact friends, family or organisations that can assist them. If, however, they cannot meet the costs of flights, food and shelter, they are asked to sign emergency loan agreements before returning home.

The Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has called for the matter to be investigated.

The Times says that a Freedom of Information request showed the Foreign Office has lent £7,765 to at least eight victims in the past two years. About £3,000 has been repaid, but more than £4,500 is outstanding. A surcharge of 10 per cent is added if the loan is not repaid within six months.

Shaista Gohir, of the Muslim Women's Network UK, said:

"If the government is saying that forced marriage is against the law, they're not helping victims to come forward if they're then charging them for help."

For a report by BBC News, click here.