British mum jailed for duping daughter into forced marriage

LONDON • A mother who duped her daughter into travelling to Pakistan to enter a forced marriage was sentenced yesterday to 41/2 years in prison, following the first successful prosecution of its kind in Britain.

The woman was found guilty on Tuesday following a trial at Birmingham Crown Court, in central England, where a jury heard how the girl sobbed as she was wedded to a relative 16 years her senior.

"You had cruelly deceived her. She was frightened, alone, held against her will, being forced into a marriage she dreaded," said Judge Patrick Thomas in sentencing the British mother. "You have sought to blame her for everything, and yourself have accepted responsibility for nothing."

The girl was forced to marry the same man who had taken her virginity and left her pregnant on an earlier trip to Pakistan, the court heard.

Then aged 13, she underwent an abortion on returning to Britain.

Concerns over the girl's welfare were allayed by her mother, who cannot be named to protect the identity of her daughter.

She said the pregnancy was a result of "two teenagers who had sneakily had sex", according to prosecutors.

Jurors heard how as the girl approached her 18th birthday, she was tricked by her mother into returning to Pakistan on what she was told would be a family holiday.

The couple were married in September 2016 despite objections from the girl, before she was returned to Britain with the assistance of the Home Office.

Her mother was arrested in January last year. She was convicted of deceiving a victim into travelling abroad to enter into a false marriage - the first conviction of its kind - as well as other forced marriage and perjury charges.

 

It was found that the defendant had lied about the incident in Britain's High Court, where she was summoned when concerns were raised by the authorities.

The new offence of forced marriage came into effect in June 2014, but prosecutions have been rare.

However, the Forced Marriage Unit - a joint effort by the foreign and interior ministries - provided support to about 1,200 potential cases last year, a government spokesman said, making Britain a "world leader" in tackling the problem.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 24, 2018, with the headline 'British mum jailed for duping daughter into forced marriage'. Print Edition | Subscribe