Justice! Parents jailed for forcing their daughter into marriage in Bangladesh
By Barfi Culture Team
31st July 2018

In 2016, an eighteen-year-old girl was taken by her parents to a six-week holiday to Bangladesh. She was told it was to see her family and celebrate Eid.

But that was a lie. They were trying to trick her into marrying her cousin, as she found out a week after arriving in Bangladesh.

When she refused her father threatened her life, saying he would slit her throat if she didn't obey. Messages sent by the young woman to her family and friends showed she was horrified and hated the idea of marrying her first cousin.

It was only after her younger sister contacted the British High Commission, which in turn worked with the Forced Marriages Unit and Bangladeshi Police, that she was rescued just days before the wedding.

All this was revealed in court over the last few weeks during trial. On Monday the verdict was clear: the parents were guilty of using violence, threats or coercion to force their daughter into marriage.

A judge at Leeds crown court sentenced the father to four-and-a-half years and the mother to three-and-a-half years in jail.

Why is this important?

This is the second major Forced Marriage conviction since the practice was specifically criminalised in 2014. In May a British mother was convicted of forcing her daughter into marriage in Pakistan.

In recent years the UK justice system has been developing special practices, in partnership with victims and NGOs, to ensure forced marriages can be prosecuted.

This includes withholding the name of the victim as well as the perpetrators to ensure more chance of a conviction. Victims can be reluctant to testify if they feel it would expose them or shame the whole family.

'I am now free'

The young woman released a statement last night saying:

"I know I will always have to remain cautious but, knowing those monsters are going to be in prison, I feel the uttermost freedom in my heart."

"I want other girls to know that forcing someone to marry is wrong. I want to be able to give a message to my siblings and other people who find themselves in this situation that life does go on. I want my elders to know that it is illegal and you can’t treat family like this."

"I want to be able to hold my head high knowing that I stood up for what is right. I want to be able to live knowing that I will not be a victim for my parents’ honour and reputation."

"I will not live in shame. I am now free."

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