Forced marriage and disabled people

From Archive (2015)

‘Arranging’ a marriage for a disabled person
Marriage is a lifelong commitment based on freewill and choice. Arranged marriages can and often do work out great, but make sure that you understand the line between an arranged and forced marriage, the laws protecting those that lack the mental capacity to consent and the individual needs of a person with a disability or learning difficulty and whether marriage is a choice they’re making.  Some parents of those with disabilities and learning difficulties feel that marriage is a good choice for their son or daughter’s future and believe it will provide them with the future care they need so seek to arrange one with a suitable spouse from either the UK or overseas. The practice of arranged marriage is an age-old tradition and common in Asian, African and Middle-Eastern communities. These marriages can and often do work out really well, however, where a person with special needs or a disabled person is concerned, great care should be taken in finding a suitable spouse and ensuring the marriage remains arranged, not forced, for both people involved. The end decision must be of both intending spouses. 

The following are some considerations to bear in mind when arranging the marriage of a person with a disability or learning difficulty:
Firstly, when the marriage is being arranged to a person living abroad or who is in the UK with little or no immigration status, it’s important to make sure the person is marrying because he or she genuinely wants to and not because they see it as an easy path to British citizenship. There have been many cases of ‘sham’ marriages in the UK where those with ‘just citizenship’ in mind will manipulate and use vulnerable British or European Economic Area (EEA) citizens for residency purposes. 

Secondly, does your son or daughter have a disability or learning difficulty which affects their mental capacity to consent to a marriage?
If the answer is yes, any marriage would be considered illegal under new laws introduced in 2014 within the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act to combat forced marriages of British nationals (even if they’re taken abroad). While a marriage can be seen as a positive future step, it’s important for anybody who is about to marry to understand and be conscious of their decision and consent freely. 

The third thing to consider is the vulnerability of a person with a disability or learning difficulty and recognising that because of their complex needs and subsequent vulnerability, they face a greater risk of abuse in marriage – physical, sexual and emotional. They could well find themselves in a position where their partner isn’t providing them with the care they desperately need and in many cases, could be abusing them subtly by taking their money or using care and resources (such as disabled badges) for their own self gain or even more seriously, subjecting them to physical and sexual violence. Victims, especially those with learning difficulties can fail to recognise abuse or find it more difficult to ask for help. 

New plans under the Immigration Act to combat ‘sham’ marriage.To tackle the issue of sham marriage, in November last year, the Government announced reforms of the Immigration Act which could be introduced in as early as March 2015. Under the plans, the notice period in England and Wales for marriage and civil partnership will be extended from 15 days to 28 days. Non EEA citizens with limited or no immigration status will be referred to the Home Office for investigation, who can extend the notice period to 70 days so an investigation can take place to determine whether a marriage is sham. 

Forced marriage: the law and further information
Some marriages that are perceived as ‘arranged’ may be forced. Forced marriage leads to a range of abuses for victims of the practice. It is illegal in England & Wales and carries a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.

For help and advice call the Honour Network Helpline for independent and confidential advice from Karma Nirvana: 0800 5999 247 

By Sabbir Malik, Wandsworth Community Safety Division
Note: This article was produced for the Wandsworth DC Register NewsPlease e-mail for enquiries 

image source: The Business Standard

The reality of claiming benefits in the UK

Losing your job and having to claim benefits. A brutal reality. 

For the thousands of workers finding themselves in the unfortunate position of losing their job because of the Coronavirus pandemic, another brutal fate awaits. 

And with a twist of irony, the very kind of voter akin to reading the type of toxic tabloid headlines responsible for the second wave of brutality is undoubtedly the most exposed to be the risk of joblessness. 

I speak of the Daily Mail, the Sun, the Daily Express and Daily Star reading public – the ones convinced of a takeover of jobs by ‘bloody immigrants’ who ‘don’t even work’, the ones swayed towards a persuasion of sunny uplands and greener grass by voting to take away the freedom of movement from future generations and so passionately defending the British fishing industry whilst completely content to break up the very ‘Union’ they claim to defend. The kind of reader that would perhaps sell their own mother to fund a campaign to stop these disgusting foreigners from ever breathing the same air as them.  

Despite the depressing yet true image of the above, many of the readers of the above-referenced sources of right-wing propaganda outlets that serve the interests of none bar shady billionaires, genuinely are (or were) decent people that have been sucked into campaigns of misconception, deliberate lies and deceit, all in an effort that has spanned out over decades to convince people quite literally to vote against their own interests whilst simultaneously pointing their finger of rage towards Muslims, immigrants, the disabled, pregnant women, single mothers, teachers, trade unions, George Soros, the EU, etc.

The flat screen TV, fags and luxury lifestyle.

For years, the propaganda machine has been – and yes, very deliberately, convincing you that those living on benefits are living a life of luxury with access to the latest tech whilst sitting on their fat lazy arses all day with their legs stretched out on a £5,000 sofa enjoying the Jeremy Kyle show. Outrageously of course, is the fact that while you go out there to earn a hard, honest living – come rain, sun or snow, the government are left with no choice but to steal the hard-earned money from your pay cheque to fund these luxury lifestyles. 

Yet, the brutal reality of the situation for the thousands that find themselves in the unfortunate position of relying upon state benefits is mightily far from that portrayed in Paul Dacre’s asserted falsehoods and misrepresentations. 

It is one of desperation, humiliation and mistreatment by a state machine designed to hold barriers at every stage possible. 

Personal Independence Payment 

Take for example if your fate is a result of your newly developed disability preventing your ability to work any longer or require reduced work or alternative work; you find yourself at the peril of a private company funded by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) with the very objective of working to extremely restrictive criteria that fails to take an objective and holistic look at your condition and provide the DWP with the very ‘evidence’ required to mercilessly reject your claim, citing for example as reported in the Guardian of the case of Adam Jacques’ wife, her ability to ‘function perfectly normally’ at an assessment as a reason to score her ‘zero’ awarding points, thus no entitlement. 

I speak of course of a claim for Personal Independence Payment, the replacement to ‘Disability Allowance’ which pays a whooping…. yes, WHOOPING, £59.70… per week, or if you’re pretty much bedbound and have somehow miraculously navigated your way through the PIP claims process, probably after appeal and perhaps Tribunal adjudication, then you are entitled to an eyewatering 

*drum roll*…

£89.15 per week as an ‘enhanced rate’. 

Yes folks, that is correct – we deem those in most need of support and help, bed-ridden in most cases and with pretty much a lifelong condition, worthy of just £89.15 per week. To put that into perspective; it amounts to just £0.53 pence per hour, or for a 40-hour working week, £2.23 per hour. 

Then of course there’s the startling reality that in the last 10 years, the success rate for disability benefit appeals at Tribunal has almost doubled based on Ministry of Justice figures, suggesting systemic failure in the management of PIP by the DWP with no explanation as to why nor how this has come to be. Of course, flip only knows what happens to the hundreds of claimants that opt not to appeal their case to Tribunal besides of course, sitting on a rejection letter.

Thus, we conclude on the topic of disability specific benefits… Boris Johnson, whilst writing for the Telegraph earned over 850 x more per hour for ONE column per week, than what a ‘disabled scrounger’ is worth and the chance that your claim for disability benefits in the first-place being successful regardless of how meritorious it is, is worryingly low with most likelihood suggesting a need to appeal to the Tribunal.

Oh, of course – an appeal to Tribunal will also be completely and utterly on your own or at a cost of thousands in private legal fees, given the so-called venerable cuts to legal aid excluding even the most vulnerable from accessing independent legal advice to support their Tribunal claim.  

What about just good old Jobseekers / Universal Credit

Ah, well my friends, you speak of the thousands that have lost their jobs as a result of industries failing, cinema chains closing and furlough ending with no job to go back to? 

For you, if you’re single and over 25, £409.89. If you’re single and under 25, £342.72.

Or if you’re a couple and both under 25, £488.59, or one of either of you over 25, then £594.04. 

Sounds quite sweet right? After-all, £409.89 x 4, as a single adult over the age of 25 comes to a grand total of £1639.56. 

Given that the average annual income is about £30,420 according to the ONS statistics, meaning a net £2,027 in your pocket per month, £1639.56 per month does equate to a reasonable merely -19% less than the UK average income.

Oh no, wait, my apologies… I think I have my calculations completely wrong. 

My bad.

Turns out that it’s just £409.89 in total per month, not per week. 

Re-calculation time.

Right, so, the average person takes £2,027 per month (apparently), therefore, Universal Credit represents a reduction of -80% of the average person’s income.

What else does £409.89 / £342.72 per month represent? 

Well, that’ll be £102.47 per week, or if you’re unfortunate enough to be a young person, £85.68 per week.

And so, that’s… £2.56 per hour on a 40-week working day (or £2.14 if you’re under 25)

Wait, what was the living wage / minimum wage, you ask? 


Therefore, on Universal Credit, you are earning 4x less than minimum wage and over 895x less than Boris Johnson’s hourly rate for a weekly Daily Telegraph column. 

So then… To conclude

Not only are Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payment amounts ludicrously low as well as misrepresented in the right-wing press; the reality of a claim for Universal Credit or PIP is bureaucracy, delayed payment and being chased up like you’re a school child not handing in your homework should you not agree to the strict criteria of the agreement you sign with the DWP to apply for jobs.

And yes, I acknowledge that there are other provisions such as housing allowances and council tax reductions available (albeit, ultra-restricted and narrowed to the core) and I too acknowledge that there are in some cases those who exploit the system for personal gain, but even in those cases I urge against caution of entering the realm of the court of public opinion, particularly when absent of facts.

as for the newly jobless out there… I’m sorry you’ve lost your job

And I’m even more sorry for you that society at large has allowed for the situation you find yourself in to unfold in the way in which it has… By allowing scrupulous individuals and charlatans, the mysterious ‘taxpayers’ alliance’, the tabloid journalists and the right-wing politicians… Manipulate voters into believing that it’s possible to buy luxury cars, sofas and TVs… on £2.56 per hour. 

The Injustice Blog, 

Sabbir Malik

Image source: Newstatesman

Why it’s so important to care about social justice

It’s amazing, isn’t it?

School leavers at the age of sixteen finalise their gruelling last two years of mandatory education with GCSEs, the examinations for which require a regurgitation of Pythagoras’ theorem, an in-depth understanding of chloroplasts and photosynthesis, a comprehensive understanding of the differences between ancient religious ideologies and of course, for those that undertook the Physical Education GCSE; how to throw a javelin. 

Yet, such young minds, regardless of how bright or dim-witted they are, leave school, absent of any information about the very tenets by which they are expected to lead their lives; the very why and what it means for them to be in a society governed by often bizarre laws, how to vote, how to access social-welfare, how to access their fundamental rights as citizens, what their rights are if the state decides to deprive them of their rights to liberty and freedom… 

…and of course, why it’s justifiable for them to feel enraged at the fact they’re unlikely ever to access the property ladder nor free university education, legal aid in times of hardship, access to free-movement guarantees offered under membership of the European Union, safety and job security nor any of the other myriad of privileges previously relished by the very politicians and commentators that have quite blatantly… robbed the next generation of their futures. 

And it’s now, more than ever, that the fundamental importance of caring really matters. 

Like most, I left school oblivious to the world of politics and society around me. Ultimately, why would I care about something that didn’t really have a bearing on my life? And of course, why would you care either?

…Well, notwithstanding the fact that law, politics and justice governs every little aspect of your life from even before you were born to well after you die… with an imminent departure from the European Union risking the introduction of chlorinated chicken to our supermarket shelves on top of a deep recession; risks of fundamental changes to our relationship with Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights (which, FYI…has NOTHING to do with the European Union) by a government determined to scrap the ‘Ewman rights act’; strip-down of legal aid rendering your access to justice virtually impossible; disastrous cuts to our social welfare system; unemployment looming upon millions through a failure by government to appropriately tackle the worst pandemic seen in our generation…and a cabinet of narcissistic, bigoted ignoramuses running everything from education to health and immigration to environment…

… it’s now, more than ever, that we need to equip ourselves with the knowledge on how to navigate a world where Donald Trump’s opinions on climate change hold the same weight as David Attenborough’s facts…. where wool is pulled over our eyes and our rights stripped away without us even realising.

My first meeting with injustice and why I care so deeply about it

In 2009, I found myself subjected to monstrously false allegations of harassment. Metropolitan Police officers, unlawfully (as it later transpired), entered my home, handcuffed me and deprived me of my liberty for perhaps the darkest eight hours of my lived memory. 

Deterred from seeking a solicitor on the advice of the custody sergeant that “it’ll be a while before you get one”, despite establishing my innocence during interview and the police quickly establishing that no crime was committed thus no charge may follow, I was still, nevertheless, handed a ‘Harassment Warning Notice’ (and oh boy do I have a lot to say about these… stay tuned). 

For the police officers that day, this was probably just “another arrest”. 

For me, it was the beginning of a snowball turning into an avalanche of life-altering devastation, heartache, injustice and even a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress. 

Forward 3 years

In 2012, I was the victim of a tirade of abuse and harassment with threats of violence. I reported this to the police as a last resort and with nowhere left to go. The officer dealt with the situation and I opted to not support pressing charges against the perpetrator on the understanding that their communication with me seizes immediately. 

However, four days later… I found myself in a situation whereby four mistaken Metropolitan Police Officers, unlawfully (as admitted by the Met themselves, years later) entered my home again, pushed me to the ground, deployed eye-shattering CS gas on my face and brutally handcuffed and dragged me with an audience of onlooking neighbours to a police van and to a station where I was held for nine painful, horrific dark hours.

Of course, I wasn’t charged.

And of course, this time, I learnt from my past mistakes and insisted upon the services of a duty-solicitor, who – by the way… did not take ‘hours’ to come to my aid as suggested would be the case by the custody sergeant in 2009.

And yes… the duty-solicitor advised that I “don’t let this go” 


And from the ashes, a fire was woken. 

After the incidents of that day, I was armed with nothing but tears that wouldn’t even surface, sorrow in my heart and a deep sense of darkness within me. 

I didn’t want to socialise with friends, go to the gym, nor do any of the things that made me “me”. I wanted to stay in my own little bubble and avoid any conversation of what happened, letting days, weeks and months pass-by with a growing sense of hate towards the police.

Every time I saw a police officer, I felt a sense of indescribable anger. The sight of blue lights (even to date) raises my pulse and places within my mind images I wish I could forget. The memories of sitting hopelessly in a tiny cell watching the hours tick by and my feelings of injustice raining painfully down on me… have still – not left me. 

Yet, something did happen that after that dark, miserable day. That something, as I have tattooed upon my arm now…was the woken fire within me.

It was the turning-point in my life, where I had enough of feeling hopeless and felt a deep desire to do something about my ordeal. 

Fortunately, for me, I came across an action against police solicitor, who I now consider a friend. Terence Channer, an award-winning solicitor heard of my ordeal after I shared a post on Twitter. 

A few days later, only after meeting with Terence, did it become clear to me just how badly I was violated by the Metropolitan Police Service. To top it off – severely lied to and misled about my rights too.

Cutting a long story short, two years after the second incident, a settlement was agreed with the Metropolitan Police Service for unlawful entry into my home (on two occasions), unlawful arrest (on two occasions), assault (deploying of CS gas and the use of handcuffs on two occasions) and a breach of my fundamental rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (Articles 3 and 8). 

I received a five-figure sum of compensation, an apology from the Metropolitan Police Service as well as a promise to remove all data held by the police pertaining to both arrests. 

Yet; had the police accepted responsibility and owned up to their mistakes and apologised at first instance, compensation isn’t something I had even considered. 

It was the continued callousness, incompetence and stubborn attitude of officers from the Directorate of Professional Standards that resulted in lengthy litigation. 

I wasn’t after money… I was after an apology – an acknowledgement that what happened on both occasions was totally wrong and unlawful and that the same thing won’t happen to others. 

Only when lawyers representing the police became involved did the police decide

“yes, we messed up, bad”. 

and only then, did I realise too… that even with compensation, nothing takes away the pain of those two separate days in hell.

And so, going back to it. 

Had I found myself in the centre of a triangle with a need to identify the degree of angles, etc… great – my education served me well.

Yet, no… It wasn’t the above, nor was it an emergency situation whereby I needed to make a wooden model with a lightbulb and battery on it. 

It was the very real situation of finding myself in a situation whereby state actors infringed my civil liberties and deprived me of all that makes me human, yet…having no idea what to do about it. In fact, even beginning to believe the justification of senior Police Inspectors of the ‘rightfulness’ and ‘necessity’ of their actions.

The pay-out I received from suing the police went towards funding my master’s education in Human Rights. Later, I went on to joining the police (that…is for another post). It is only though the journey of (by complete chance), finding Terence, studying and passionately researching…that I opened my eyes to the horrors around us. 

… the horrors of injustice, of inequality, of violations of dignity…

by the very actors we so sheepishly nod along to their rhetoric of and so willingly forgive the fact… any one of us can be the next story of injustice. 

With that.

Welcome to my blog…

The Injustice. 

Image source: GVSU