Mother jailed for forcing daughter to marry in landmark UK trial

The Magistrates’ Court in Englands second city, Birmingham. A mother who tricked her teenage daughter into traveling to Pakistan to marry an older man was jailed for four and a half years after becoming the first person in England to be convicted of forced marriage. (Shutterstock)
Updated 23 May 2018
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Mother jailed for forcing daughter to marry in landmark UK trial

LONDON: A mother who tricked her teenage daughter into traveling to Pakistan to marry an older man was jailed for four and a half years on Wednesday after becoming the first person in England to be convicted of forced marriage.
Campaigners said Tuesday’s landmark conviction sent a strong message to families planning to coerce their daughters into marriage, and would empower girls to speak out.
The jury at Birmingham Crown Court in central England heard the girl appeared to have been betrothed to a man 16 years her senior on a visit to Pakistan when she was 13.
The man had sex with her and the girl underwent an abortion on her return to Britain, prosecutors said.
The mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, took her daughter back to Pakistan in 2016 under the guise of a holiday, but after they arrived the girl was told she would be married.
When she protested, her mother assaulted her and threatened to burn her passport, the court heard.
On the day of the wedding — just after her 18th birthday — an Islamic ceremony was performed and the girl was made to sign a certificate proving the marriage had occurred.
When a High Court judge in Britain ordered the girl’s return from Pakistan, her mother threatened her with black magic if she told anyone what had happened, prosecutors said.
Britain banned forced marriage in 2014. The maximum penalty is seven years.
The woman, in her 40s, received two concurrent three-and-a-half year jail sentences for duping her daughter into leaving Britain to get married and for forcing her into marriage.
She was jailed for a further year for committing perjury at the High Court.
Karma Nirvana, a charity supporting forced marriage victims, hailed the verdict as “very significant.”
“It sets a massive precedent,” said Natasha Rattu, a lawyer at Karma Nirvana. “If you are not prosecuting anybody under the law it will not have any deterrent effect.”
The government’s Forced Marriage Unit received reports of nearly 2,000 possible cases last year, many involving girls from South Asian backgrounds. But campaigners say the figure is just the tip of the iceberg.
Detective Superintendent Sally Holmes of West Midlands Police praised the victim’s “extraordinary” bravery.
“Anyone who is considering marrying a person against their will must understand that we will thoroughly investigate any such offenses, wherever they take place in the world,” she said.


US urges coalitions against Iran’s ‘malign meddling’

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US is committed to helping the Middle East be secure and stable. (AFP)
Updated 23 January 2019
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US urges coalitions against Iran’s ‘malign meddling’

  • Iran is threat to regional stability, Pompeo tells WEF
  • Pompeo also expressed optimism about an end to the conflict in Yemen

DAVOS: The US wants to build more coalitions in the Middle East to counter the “very real” threat of Iran’s malign meddling in the region, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the World Economic Forum in Davos on Tuesday.

Speaking via video link, Pompeo said the US was committed to a “secure and stable” Middle East and had assembled a “global coalition of nations to confront Iran and support the aspirations of the Iranian people.”

Pompeo said: “America is committed to helping the Middle East be secure and stable. We are a force for good in the region, and we have been for an awfully long time.”

He said the biggest threat to regional stability was Iran, especially in crisis zones such as Yemen, Syria and Iraq, and in its support for Hezbollah in Lebanon.

“Those are places where Iran is truly the malign actor, and that is why we are so happy with the coalition we have built,” he said.

“It is so central to creating the stability the people of the Middle East so richly deserve.

“There are political and diplomatic solutions to all of these problems, and we need all our diplomats, from all across the region, working to solve them.”

Pompeo also expressed optimism about an end to the conflict in Yemen, where a Saudi-led military coalition is supporting the legitimate government against Iran-backed Houthi militias.

 “I am very hopeful we can make progress there,” he said. “We made a big step forward with the agreement surrounding the port of Hodeidah; we got real commitment from all the parties. 

“It was most unfortunate that the Houthis made a major break on Jan. 10 to that cease-fire by using an Iranian-designed instrument of war to kill people after those agreements were reached back in December.

“I know that the Gulf states are committed to achieving that outcome; we are committed here in the United States.”

Pompeo also spoke briefly about peace between Israel and Palestine, and said talks would not be “driven by the US” but by the Israelis and Palestinians themselves.

Globally, Pompeo praised a wave of “disruption” in world politics, including the election of Donald Trump, the UK vote to leave the European Union and elections in France and Malaysia.

He renewed Trump’s criticism of international institutions and the US president’s calls for “strong borders” to protect national sovereignty. “New winds are blowing across the world,” he said. “I’d argue that this disruption is a positive development.”

Pompeo acknowledged that Trump’s criticism of international institutions had ruffled feathers. “Sometimes leadership and asking hard questions drives others to be a little concerned. Perhaps they’re not quite ready to stare these problems in the face. But we are — President Trump is.”