Wales

Forced marriage jail first as Cardiff man sentenced

  • 10 June 2015
  • From the section Wales
Media caption"Having raped his victim several times, he drove her to a Cardiff mosque to go through a wedding ceremony", as Hywel Griffith reports

A 34-year-old Cardiff man has become the first person in the UK to be prosecuted under forced marriage laws introduced a year ago.

The man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was jailed for 16 years after admitting making a 25-year-old woman marry him under duress last year.

He also pleaded guilty to charges of rape, bigamy and voyeurism at Merthyr Crown Court.

The court heard he threatened to kill her father unless she married him.

He was sentenced to four years for the forced marriage, 12 months for bigamy and 12 months for voyeurism to run concurrently with the 16-year rape sentence.

The court heard he became 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.

Analysis by Yasminra Khan

Last year the Forced Marriages Unit (FMU), run jointly by the Home Office and the Foreign Office, gave advice and support in 1,267 cases of possible forced marriages. So why are there so few prosecutions?

Many say the problem lies in deep-rooted 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 families with strong roots on the Indian Subcontinent.

Some parents claim to believe they are doing the best for their child in arranging their marriage and that they are helping them to secure a good future.

Why so few forced marriage prosecutions?

Image caption The court was told the defendant "bound and gagged" his victim with his wife's scarves

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."

The judge said the offences began when the woman became engaged last year and in March 2014 he took her to his house under the pretence of having a meal with his wife.

'You took her innocence'

"Your house was empty, you locked the front door and drew the curtains, you ignored her pleas to let her go and threw her mobile phone away and bound and gagged her with scarves belonging to your wife," he said.

"You tied her hands behind her back, she was bruised by the ties and she couldn't breathe. She almost passed out and then you raped her.

"She was a virgin, something which you knew and something which you used to ensure her silence. You took her innocence to ensure her silence."

The court heard he later pretended to be her fiancé on Facebook and when she disclosed the rape online, sought to persuade her to take the matter no further.

Less than a month later, he contacted her asking her forgiveness and then raped her.

Media captionDet Supt Lian Penhale said forced marriage wrecks lives

The judge said he told her she was to be his wife and took her to a mosque, continuing his threats to kill members of her family and reveal the videos if she did not comply.

After the hearing, Det Supt Lian Penhale from South Wales Police praised the woman's "courage and strength" to come forward.

Iwan Jenkins, head of CPS Wales Rape and Serious Sexual Offences Unit, 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."

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