Parents found guilty of trying to force girl to marry her first cousin in Bangladesh
A man and woman have been convicted of forced marriage after luring their daughter to Bangladesh in a bid to wed the 19-year-old to her first cousin.
The teenager had previously told a jury at Leeds Crown Court that she had to endure “physical abuse” as her parents, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pressured her into going through with the plan.
In a pre-recorded interview, the victim claimed she was left “almost suicidal” by the incident, and that she was told she would have to have a baby with the family member once she married him.
On Tuesday, a jury of 11 men and one woman convicted the girl’s parents of forced marriage.
They were also found guilty of one count of using violence, threats or coercion to force their daughter into marriage, following a three-week trial.
The verdict came less than a week after a woman was jailed for four-and-a-half years at Birmingham Crown Court after forcing her daughter to marry in Pakistan, in the first successful prosecution of its type.
Jurors in the Leeds case heard that the girl’s parents had told her they were going on a six-week holiday to Bangladesh to visit relatives and celebrate Eid.
However, just days after arriving on July 3 2016, she was told by her father that he had found a husband for her.
“He said ‘I have planned this for years, the guy is really suitable, I’ve given him money for university, and he’s a really attractive guy for round here’,” the victim told the court.
“He was trying to get me to say yes, but at no point did I say yes. I thought it was disgusting because it was my first cousin and stood my ground.”
The teenager, from Leeds, was supposedly told she would “live like a queen” and that rejecting the proposal would “bring shame” on her parents.
She said: “As the days went by, verbal abuse turned to physical abuse and my dad hit me over the head one day. It was so bad that the whole room literally went black.”
She also said her mother had pressured her father into hitting her again, based on the belief it would stop her “rebelling” against the marriage.
The teenager, who was studying for her A-levels at the time, had told her mother that, even if she was forced to marry, she would file a report to authorities saying what had happened.
“But my mum said there was no way that that would happen, because they were going to leave me there for a year so that I would get pregnant so that he (the first cousin) could get a visa,” she told the jury during the trial.
With the help of her younger sister, she was able to contact the British High Commission, who rescued her days before the wedding was due to take place.
She also contacted her boyfriend, who was able to alert other authorities of the situation.
Her parents will be sentenced at the same court on June 18.
In a statement issued following the verdict, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) claimed the girl’s father had threatened to slit her throat and “chop her up” within 18 seconds if she failed to accept his plan.
Praising the victim’s bravery, Michael Quinn, from the CPS, said: “She showed courage in contacting the authorities for help, and provided valuable assistance with the investigation and prosecution of these offences.
“This successful prosecution sends a clear message that forced marriage is a very serious crime and those responsible will be prosecuted.”
The statement added that the British High Commission in Bangladesh, the Forced Marriage Unit and Bangladeshi police all worked together to bring the victim back to the UK.
Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Anna Gowthorpe / PA Wire.