A woman in Birmingham has been jailed for four and a half years for forcing her 17-year-old daughter to travel to Pakistan and wed a man nearly twice her age.
It is the first-ever conviction for forced marriage in England, and the second-ever in the UK. The mother was found guilty on two counts of forced marriage and a third charge of perjury.
The maximum punishment for forced marriage is 7 years in jail, but the judge opted to sentence the woman to three and a half years for forced marriage, and one for perjury.
The judge, Patrick Thomas QC, told the defendant: “You had cruelly deceived her. She was frightened, alone, held against her will, being forced into a marriage she dreaded. You must have known that was her state of mind. Yet for your own purposes, you drove the marriage through.”
The Guardian reports:
During the trial, jurors heard how the woman had promised the troubled teenager a family holiday and bribed her with a phone.
But instead, after taking her to Pakistan, the woman told her daughter on her 18th birthday that she would marry a family relative by whom she had become pregnant on a previous visit in 2012 when she was 13 and he was 29.
Despite her daughter’s pleas that she did not want to marry the 34-year-old Pakistani national, the defendant planned the wedding day for later that month, on 18 September 2016.
Giving evidence, the defendant’s daughter had told Birmingham crown court how she had cried during the wedding and begged her mother not to send her home with the groom after being forced to sign marriage papers.
Her mother later abandoned her in Pakistan before lying under oath to a high court judge in the UK about what had happened.
Earlier in the trial, jurors were told how the mother had betrothed her daughter to her second husband’s nephew on a previous visit to Pakistan in 2012 before the girl fell pregnant. After the trip the girl’s pregnancy was terminated and she was taken into the care of a children’s home.
Prosecutor Deborah Gould argued that her mother took advantage of her daughter, who has learning disabilities, and emotionally manipulated her.
During the sentencing, the defendant’s family listened from the public gallery, but her daughter sat separately. The prosecutor read out the victim’s impact statement to a packed court, in which she urged others at risk of forced marriage to tell someone.
“If it wasn’t me in this position could it have been one of my brothers or sisters?” she wrote.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) said that they hope this case will encourage others to seek help.
“Children as young as 13 have contacted Childline about being forced into marriage yet fearing they will be cut out of their family if they refuse. Forced marriage is a form of child abuse and this case has laid bare the effect it has on young lives. We would urge anyone worried about a child to speak up before it is too late, so that we can get help and prevent them being bound into something they would never ask for,” a spokesperson said.
Adults can call the NSPCC Helpline at 0808 800 5000 and youth can contact Childline at 0800 1111 or via www.childline.org.uk.
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