The UK has just prosecuted its first successful case against forced marriage in an English court. The case involved a mother who tricked her 17-year old daughter into travelling to Pakistan to wed a relative who was 16 years her senior.
It was the second trip the girl had been duped into, with the first occurring when she was just 13. During that time, she was made to enter into a “marriage contract” with the man and become pregnant. After that trip, her mother brought her to get an abortion, pretending that her child and the man were just “two teenagers who had sneakily had sex,” said prosecutors.
During the most recent trip, as the girl sobbed and protested, her mother assaulted her and told her that she would burn her passport, before forcing her to sign marriage papers.
Unfortunately, most cases of forced marriage do not have this ending. Karma Nirvana, a Clarion-partner organization, receives close to 300 calls a month about forced marriage and honor-based abuse. “But a lot of victims will not want to report these matters to police,” said Supt. Sally Holmes from West Midlands Police, adding that “It’s their parents or family members who might be responsible.”
Hopefully the victory will encourage more victims to come forward in the future. Every year, it is estimated that 14 million girls under the age of 18 are married. Most often, what this means for the victims is that their education will be discontinued and their development stunted. In addition, girls who are forced into underage marriages are much more likely to die in childbirth, contract sexually transmitted diseases or be the victims of domestic violence.
See our infographic below and learn what you can do to stop child marriage: