First Forced Marriage Prosecution for the UK
12 June 2015 by Charlotte Knappett
Forced marriage was made a criminal offence under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 which came into force on 16 June 2014. Just under a year later, we now have the first prosecution for this offence.
The 34 year old man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was jailed for a total of 16 years at Merthyr Crown Court after he admitted forcing a 25 year old woman to marry him under duress last year. The court heard he had threatened to kill the woman’s father unless she married him. On top of this, he also pleaded guilty to charges of rape, bigamy and voyeurism.
The court heard that he had become obsessed with the woman, a devout Muslim, and threatened to reveal videos he had secretly filmed of her in the shower and kill members of her family if she told anyone.
Judge Daniel Williams described the defendant as an “arrogant, manipulative and devious man”. He had pleaded guilty on the second day of his trial, with the judge saying: “To the bitter end you sought to exert control over her, no doubt in the hope she would not go through with her allegations.”
Following the hearing Lian Penhale from South Wales Police praised the woman’s “courage and strength” for coming forward. The head of CPS Wales Rape and Serious Sexual Offences Unit, Iwan Jenkins, said “Forced marriage wrecks lives and destroys families. “We hope that today’s sentence sends a strong message that forced marriage will not be tolerated in today’s Britain.”
Last year the Forced Marriages Unit (FMU) gave advice and support in 1,267 cases of possible forced marriages. The Unit is run jointly by the Home Office and the Foreign Office and aims to offer guidance and assistance to professionals working with victims of forced marriage. In light of this, some may ask why this is the first prosecution. It is possible that the problem can stem from cultural traditions and that young people are reluctant to come forward to the authorities. The code of family honour and shame can run very deep in some families.
To find out more about the FMU, please click here.
For further information about forced marriage and how Fisher Jones Greenwood is able to help, please click here.