The first conviction in the UK, after criminalisation, was in Wales in 2015. A married man was prosecuted for forcing a 25-year-old woman to marry him. The woman was invited to his house for what she believed was a gathering with friends. Instead, when she arrived, he locked her inside, bound and gagged her, and then raped her. He threatened the woman that he would share with the public, secret footage of her in the shower unless she married him. The man then continued to rape her for months and threatened to kill her parents if she did not agree to the marriage. He was sentenced to 16 years for the forced marriage and other charges including rape and bigamy.You can read more about the case in the media here and here
The first conviction in England was in May 2018. A thirteen-year-old girl was taken to Pakistan by her mother, where mother arranged a marriage contract (a nikah), and the man raped the girl, who was a child. The girl became pregnant. The mother and daughter travelled back to the UK, where the girl was forced to have an abortion and instructed to conceal her condition. Later she was moved to supported accommodation where she recommenced daily interaction with her mother.
In 2017, when the girl was 17 the mother took her to Pakistan to marry the man. The girl said that she did not wish to marry the man. Her mother threatened to burn her passport and assaulted her. The girl’s father, who was no longer in a relationship with her mother, found out through a friend, whom his daughter had contacted on social-media, that his daughter had been forced into a marriage. He informed social services and the police after which the mother was arrested. Her mother was sentenced to four and a half years in prison.You can read more about the case in the media here:, here and here
A father and mother were sentenced in July 2018 for the forced marriage of their 18-year-old daughter. In 2016, the parents had told their daughter, under false pretences, that they were going on a family holiday in Bangladesh. Upon arrival, they told her that she had to marry her cousin and have a child with him. Her father repeatedly thrashed her, and both parents threatened her with violence and death if she did not agree to the marriage. The girl had a boyfriend in the UK whom she managed to contact, and he informed the police. She was rescued by the British High Commission with the assistance of armed police and was able to return to the UK. In June 2018, her father received a sentence of four-and-a-half years, and her mother received three-and-a-half years’ imprisonment. The victim/survivor has had to assume a new identity and, even with her parents’ conviction, lives in fear of her family.
Charlotte McDonald and Nasreen Rehman