UK Forced Marriage Prosecutions

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The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014

In 2014, legislation was introduced to tackle forced marriage in the UK. The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 amended the Forced Marriage Civil Protection Act 2007, and Family Law Act 1996. It became stringent; criminalising those who breach Forced Marriage Protection Orders.

Since the new legislation, the Forced Marriage Unit has advised in 5,111 cases, 719 of those cases relating to minors. The Karma Nirvana Charity has received 60,000 inquiries relating to honour-based abuse and forced marriage. Last year, the charity received 200 forced marriage calls, coming from children aged 15 or under, or on their behalf.

A spokesperson of The NSPCC stated that children as young as 13 have contacted Child Line; worried about being forced into a marriage, yet fearing they will be cut out of the family if they refuse. 

Recently, two separate cases rose to the surface: 

In May, two prosecutions were found guilty for forced marriage in UK courts.

In Birmingham, a woman was jailed for four and a half years for tricking her 17 year old daughter into travelling to Pakistan and forcing her to marry a man 16 years her senior. The man had previously raped the teenage girl whilst she was 13, during an earlier visit in 2012. The 45 year old man was found guilty on two accounts of forced marriage.

The 19 year old daughter described at court how her mother had bribed her with a mobile phone and tricked her into visiting Pakistan, perceiving it to be a holiday. She went on to tell how her mother then abandoned her there; leaving her with the 34 year old man whom she had become pregnant with in 2012 when she was 13 years old. She was forced to sign marriage papers. After the initial trip to Pakistan resulted in pregnancy in 2012, the daughter was taken from the mother and placed into a children’s home. Her pregnancy was terminated.

In Leeds, a couple tricked their teenage 18 year old daughter into travelling to Bangladesh, and attempted to force her into marrying her first cousin. The couple have been charged guilty of using violence, threats and coercion to force their daughter into marriage.  The couple removed their daughter from college during term time for what she thought was a holiday abroad to celebrate Eid.

After refusing, the daughter was told she would be ‘chopped up’ by her father if she didn’t comply with the arrangement. Her father went on to hit her over the head, and her mother stated that she would be left in Bangladesh for a year so that she could get pregnant, and receive a Visa for her first cousin.

On both accounts, the victims have been psychologically and emotionally manipulated and abused by trusted family members. They now result in abandonment from their family, for taking the case to court. The nature of forced marriage is secretive and isolating to the victim-castrating them from their family for refusing to marry into the desired arrangement.

How can thousands of reports from various organisations and charities result in only two successful prosecutions? 

It is felt that often victims don’t want to prosecute their parents, fearing repercussions.  But to keep quite risks the victims lives. Forced marriage is a form of child abuse, with severe emotional and psychological effects on the victim. Forced marriage potentially leads on to repetitive rape, abusing human rights. When a minor is involved, the law has statutory duties under the Forced Marriage Act of 2007 to protect children. The majority of applications for forced marriage protection orders are for children aged 17 or under.

If feel yourself or someone you know is in danger or potential risk, it is vital to seek free legal advice straight away- in order to protect and prevent the worst case scenario. Parveen Ahmed is one of 10 Solicitors in the UK to achieve Resolution accreditation in the field of forced marriage & honour-based violence.  Call our specialist today on 0113 200 7427 or alternatively email parveen.ahmed@harrisonbundey.co.uk to receive your next steps forward.

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