LONDON — A woman in Britain was sentenced to four and a half years in prison Wednesday for forcing her teenage daughter to marry a relative in Pakistan almost twice her age.
The sentence follows the first successful prosecution in England under laws against forced marriage.
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The victim says she was 13 years old when she was forced to enter a marriage contract with the man, 16 years her senior. She became pregnant and had an abortion.
She says that as her 18th birthday approached in 2016, she was tricked into going to Pakistan for what she thought was a family vacation and made to marry the man instead.
The girl eventually returned to Britain with government help.
The mother, who can’t be named to protect the identity of her daughter, was found guilty Tuesday by a jury at Birmingham Crown Court in central England.
Passing sentence, Judge Patrick Thomas told her that she had “cruelly deceived” her daughter and shown “cowardice and deceit.”
“She was frightened, alone, held against her will, being forced into a marriage she dreaded,” the judge said. “You must have known that was her state of mind. Yet for your own purposes, you drove the marriage through.”
Britain introduced an offense of forced marriage in 2014, but prosecutions have been rare — in part because victims often do not want to report family members to police. A man in Wales was convicted of forced marriage in 2015, and there is at least one other case currently before the courts.
Prosecutor Deborah Gould said the victim in this case felt guilty for turning in her mother but was “proud of herself for coming to court.”
The government’s Forced Marriage Unit says it has issued more than 1,500 forced-marriage protection orders since 2008. The court orders — a step short of criminal prosecution — are designed to prevent people from being forced to wed.
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