A jury at Birmingham Crown Court has found the mother of an 18 year old girl guilty under the Forced Marriage Act in the first successful prosecution of its kind.
The girl became pregnant at the age of 13 to a male relative 16 years older than her to whom she was later forced to marry shortly after her 18th birthday. The girl had been taken to Pakistan to lose her virginity having entered into a “marriage contract” against her will and upon her return had an abortion. Social services became alerted to the girl by her GP but her mother was said to have convinced authorities that the girl had foolishly had sex with another teenager abroad and that the pregnancy was just a naïve teenage mistake.
Around her 18th birthday, the girl was convinced by her mother to go on a family holiday to Pakistan only to be then taken to an Imam to marry her male relative against her will.
Her mother threatened to tear up her passport if she didn’t comply with the marriage and returned to England without her daughter. Upon her return to England the mother (who has not been named for legal reasons) was summoned to the High Court after her daughter had contacted a friend in England via Facebook. The mother again lied, this time telling the Court that her daughter was not married, was happy and that she wanted to stay in Pakistan. In a letter to the Judge, the daughter wrote “I think my mother sold me for a British passport”.
Her mother awaits sentencing having been found guilty of perjury (lying to the Court on oath) and of committing offences under the Forced Marriage Act. The offences committed under the Forced Marriage Act carry a sentence of up to 7 years’ imprisonment.
Forcing someone to marry against their will is a criminal offence and is defined as a marriage where one, or both spouses, do not consent to the marriage and violence, threats or other forms of coercion are involved. The Forced Marriage Unit gives over 1000 victims support each year. The majority are female and some as young as 13, but about 21% of the victims are male. The Home Office and Foreign Office published a report earlier this month which commented: “Forced marriage is a hidden crime and these figures may not reflect the full scale of the abuse.”
The four countries with the highest numbers of cases are Pakistan, Bangladesh, Somalia and India.
Injunctions can be applied for to prevent marriages going ahead.
If you need any help in relation to family matters please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Family Law team on 0113 201 4902. A member of our team is a fluent Punjabi speaker.Back to Blog