A mother who forced her daughter to marry a relative almost twice her age has been convicted in the first successful prosecution of its type.
The woman duped the teenager into travelling to Pakistan to wed the man, who was 16 years her senior.
He had taken the girl’s virginity when she was 13, after the pair were entered into a “marriage contract”.
A jury at Birmingham Crown Court found the mother guilty of two counts of forced marriage.
The court was told how the girl became pregnant after first having sex with the man when she was 13.
She had an abortion on returning to the UK, with her GP reporting his concerns to social services.
Prosecutors said her mother “made all the right noises” to suggest her daughter and the man were just “two teenagers who had sneakily had sex” after she was referred to social services.
‘I didn’t want to get married’
She was forced to marry the relative just after her 18th birthday when her mother made her believe she was going on a family holiday to Pakistan.
Jurors heard how the girl had cried to her mother after signing a certificate to prove the marriage. In court, she said: “I didn’t want to get married to him”.
It is the first time a forced marriage case of this kind has been successfully prosecuted in a criminal court in England, with the mother convicted of actively deceiving the girl in order to convince her to travel.
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When the woman’s daughter protested the marriage, the defendant threatened to burn her passport and assaulted her.
The girl “has been let down badly by her mother, whose love and attention she craves,” prosecutor Deborah Gould said.
The mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, looked shocked as she was convicted of deceiving the victim to go to Pakistan, in order to enter into a false marriage, forced marriage and perjury, after she later lied about the incident in the High Court.
She was found not guilty of a fourth charge of perverting the course of justice and will be sentenced on Wednesday.
Prosecutions for forced marriage, which became an offence in 2014, are rare.
Supt Sally Holmes from West Midlands Police said up to 300 calls a month about forced marriage and honour-based abuse are reported by Karma Nirvana, an organisation supporting victims of honour related abuse, “but a lot of victims will not want to report these matters to police”.
“It’s their parents of family members who might be responsible for that abuse and they [victims] should feel absolutely no guilt in coming forward,” she said.
Elaine Radway, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said forced marriage is a breach of human rights, and applauded the “brave testimony” of the victim.