Manchester Crown Court has jailed a father who married off his 14-year-old daughter to a man she did not know and who went on to sexually abuse her.
The Daily Mail reports that the man – who cannot be named for legal reasons – forced his daughter to marry a man in his thirties on her fourteenth birthday.
The court heard that the girl did not understand the marriage ceremony – conducted by a Bengali imam – and a family member had to pinch her throughout the ceremony to indicate when she should speak. The wedding ceremony took place at the family’s home in Longsight, Manchester in 2013, while the girl's siblings were at school.
The prosecution told the court that cultural pressures were imposed on the girl's father – and he had not acted alone in facilitating the marriage. Relatives of the girl had gone to her bedroom and dressed her in wedding finery and jewellery.
The girl was woken up by family on the morning of her fourteenth birthday and told that she was to stay at home rather than go to school because she was to be married.
“She was taken downstairs where the ceremony was performed in Bengali by an imam,” said the prosecution.
“She says she did not understand the language – an aunt stood behind her and pinched her at the appropriate time for her to speak.”
The court heard she was immediately taken back upstairs after the ceremony and undressed.
“This was done so that when the other children returned, they would not think that anything extraordinary had happened,” said the prosecution.
“She told the police officer that she had been forced to take part in a marriage and said that her husband had forced her to have sexual intercourse, which was the trigger for her to run away.”
After the marriage, the girl escaped and flagged down a police car.
The court heard that the girl’s father – who has no previous convictions – was in Bangladesh at the time the girl ran away.
He returned home at once and surrendered himself to the police.
In initial police interviews he claimed, however, that a birthday party had taken place and not a wedding, with an imam attending to give his daughter a blessing.
The father’s defence lawyer told the court that his client had not envisaged or wished any harm to come to his daughter.
“He would never have consented, and did not consent, to any physical contact.
“The marriage, in my submission, is clearly void. The complainant has not given her consent.
The girl’s father admitted child cruelty and was jailed for 14 weeks.
The man the girl was married to is believed to be in Bangladesh and police are not searching for him.
No other family members were prosecuted over the forced marriage.
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