In a landmark case, a mother who forced her daughter to marry an older relative has been jailed.
It’s the first successful prosecution for forced marriage, even though 1,196 cases of possible forced marriage were reported to the Government’s Forced Marriage Unit last year alone.
The mother was found guilty yesterday of two counts of forced marriage and one of perjury, because she lied about the incident in court.
The case came to light when the victim’s father found out about the forced marriage, and alerted social services.
The daughter, who cannot be identified, became pregnant by the man aged 13, when he was 29.
She was forced to have an abortion, but her mother was reported to have viewed the sexual encounter as a ‘marriage contract’.
She was then duped by her mother into going to Pakistan to marry him in 2016, when she was 17.
The girl made it clear that she didn’t want to travel to Pakistan to marry the relative, but her mother assaulted her and threatened to burn her passport.
In a victim impact statement, the girl described being proud of herself for speaking out and expressed hope that other girls who’d been forced into marriage would do the same.
Forced marriage became an offence in 2014, and a year later a man was jailed for a series of offences including forcing a woman to marry him, rape, and bigamy.
This latest case is the first incidence of someone being prosecuted for forcing someone else into a marriage.
The mother was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison at Birmingham Crown Court.
Yasmin Khan of the Halo Project, a charity that helps forced marriage victims and people suffering ‘abuse in the name of honour’, told Jamie East that the reason successful prosecutions were rare was because the victims - usually children - were put in a difficult position.
“This is the first time a victim has given evidence in court against her mother.
“[For some parents] the ‘honour’ bar is above the ‘love’ bar. What they will do to defend their honour is much more than you could imagine,” she said.
“The reason things like this don’t come to successful prosecutions is… who wants to see their family being prosecuted? It’s a very difficult decision for young people to take.”
Listen to the audio of Yasmin talking to Jamie above.