LONDON: A 45-year-old Pakistani-origin woman was today sentenced to four-and-a-half years in jail by a British court for taking her teenage daughter to Pakistan and forcing her to marry a man 16 years her senior, in the first successful prosecution of its kind in the UK.
The woman, who is from Birmingham but cannot be named for legal reasons, was found guilty of one count of forced marriage, one count of practising deception with the intention of causing another person to leave the country for the purpose of a forced marriage, and one count of perjury at a trial in Birmingham Crown Court yesterday.
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."
"It takes no imagination to understand the terror she must have felt", the judge said.
Judge Thomas explained that the maximum term for forced marriage offences was seven years.
But in this case he imposed three-and-a-half years for forced marriage, and one year for perjury.
Earlier, District Crown Prosecutor with the West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) Elaine Radway said forcing someone into marriage against their wishes is a criminal offence, and a breach of their human rights.
"As this prosecution demonstrates, the CPS will work with partner agencies to identify and prosecute those who coerce, control, dominate or exploit a victim to force them into marriage. It is thanks to the brave testimony of the victim that this serious offending was uncovered and that there was sufficient evidence to secure the conviction," she said.
The woman took her 17-year-old daughter to Pakistan in 2017 under the guise of a holiday.
When they arrived, the victim was told that she was to be married to a 36-year-old man in September, after she had turned 18.
When her daughter protested the marriage, the mother burnt her passport and assaulted her.
In the days leading up to the wedding, the victim made contact with family in the UK for help but the ceremony went ahead.
On the day of the wedding, the victim was taken to a venue where a nikah was performed, which did not require the groom to be present.
After being made to sign a certificate proving the marriage had taken place, she was taken to a wedding hall where she met her husband.
The couple were then presented to guests as man and wife, according to the CPS.
The mother then returned to the UK without her daughter but was brought before the Family Division of the High Court after the involvement of social services.
She went on to lie to the court that the girl had not been married and wished to stay in Pakistan but the judge ordered her immediate return to the UK.
With the assistance of the UK Home Office, the girl was brought back to the UK and told police and social workers what had happened, leading to her mother's arrest in January last year.
The girl, who is now 19 and described as vulnerable, had been forcibly entered into a "marriage contract" years earlier with the same male relative in Pakistan when she was just 13 and had to undergo an abortion after he took her virginity.
The girl "has been let down badly by her mother, whose love and attention she craves," Prosecutor Deborah Gould told the court.
The trial marks the first time a forced marriage case of this kind has been successfully prosecuted in an English court.
Forced marriage was made an offence in the UK in 2014.
Jasvinder Sanghera, director of Karma Nirvana, a charity that works with victims of forced marriage, said she hoped the conviction would pave the way for future victims to have more confidence in the criminal justice system.
"Since 2014 we have not had one criminal conviction where a victim has stood up and spoken out so courageously about her experiences against the person who has the most responsibility for her wellbeing her mother," she said.