Thursday, December 21, 2006

Many Pakistanis and Bangladeshis fear that learning English will help Muslim women become independent

Yorkshire Post:

Many young Asian women are being discouraged from learning English because once they can speak it they know their "rights", the Commons was told.

Keighley Labour MP Ann Cryer said many in-laws in the town did not want women from countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh who had married local men to learn the language.

She claimed some Muslim toddlers could not speak English when they started school and many had "never heard it".

Mrs Cryer was speaking in a wide-ranging Commons debate ahead of the Christmas break.

She has courted controversy in the past by saying poverty in Muslim communities in West Yorkshire has much to do with her claim that many cannot speak English.

Yesterday she signalled strong support for Prime Minister Tony Blair who recently said people wishing to settle in the UK should pass an English test. She added that for people seeking indefinite leave to remain, a category below citizenship, English competency should be a requirement as well.

Mrs Cryer said not enough English was being spoken in Muslim homes in her constituency.

Talking about Muslim schools in the area she said: "The problem remains that 95 per cent of their children enter school at four or three, not with just no English but actually no knowledge of the language.

"They have frequently never heard it." Mrs Cryer said when she made similar comments five years ago, some toddlers heard BBC programmes in their homes.

But now most Muslim homes had satellite TV from Pakistan – "so children go to school at three or four not having heard English".

She said of Mr Blair's speech: "I hope that this is going to be followed through, that we will actually begin to have a requirement for English before a person can gain their indefinite leave to remain. At the moment people can get indefinite leave to remain without any English whatsoever, therefore they don't bother.

"In fact I can think of many young Asian girls who have come as wives into Keighley who are actively discouraged by their in-laws, from learning English because once they know English they know their rights and they have the wherewithal to look after themselves. So there are many in-laws who don't want their girls to learn English."

Brothel visits of 'devout Muslims'


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