A U.K. man has been sentenced to 16 years in prison for forced marriage and “systemically” raping his victim — a historic first in the country that recently made forced marriage a crime.
Referred to simply as a “business man” from Cardiff in the U.K. press, the offender can’t be identified in order to protect his 25-year-old victim. He coerced her into marriage after he raped her and later filmed her in the shower, threatening to post the video on the internet.
The woman was first attacked when she arrived at the man’s Cardiff home for a supposed social gathering. She was later bound, gagged and raped — a crime the man used to blackmail her into becoming his second wife.
When you first raped her, she was still a virgin — something which you would use to ensure her silence
After months of abuse, rape and intimidation that included threats of murdering the woman’s parents, the man arrived at her work and took her to a mosque, where he is now convicted of forcing her to marrying him. The judge presiding over the trial said the man “systemically” raped and assaulted the victim.
“When you first raped her, she was still a virgin — something which you would use to ensure her silence,” Judge Daniel Williams said in handing down his sentence,according to The Guardian. The penalty includes five years of the U.K. equivalent of probation and inclusion on the country’s sex-offender registry.
“You made her feel that she was no longer marriage material [for anyone else] in the hope that she would turn to you,” the judge said, referring to the perpetrator’s years of harassment as an “irrational obsession.”
The man pled guilty to forced marriage, bigamy, voyeurism and four counts of rape, Reuters reports. He entered the plea just two days into the trial and before the victim could offer her testimony.
“While you have pleaded guilty … there has been no genuine show of remorse,” Williams said in court. “Over the period of which you raped her … it was your intention to cause her irreparable harm so that no one would want her.”
The man’s jail sentence comes just one year after the U.K. legislators voted to criminalize forced marriage in June 2014.
Marriage requires the free and enlightened consent of two persons to be the spouse of each other
It could offer a stark rationale for Canada’s own consideration of a law to ban forced marriage. Bill S-7, the Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act, would also raise the legal marriage age to 16, ban polygamists from immigrating to Canada and is intended to prevent so-called “honour killings.” A spokesperson for Immigration Minister Chris Alexander told the National Post Wednesday the government expects the bill to be passed into law by summer.
The bill has stirred both controversy and support. Many, including Unicef, have called on legislators to remove the word “Barbaric” from the bill’s title as it’s considered both offensive and othering to different cultures.
“Marriage requires the free and enlightened consent of two persons to be the spouse of each other,” the bill states.
Unicef has expressed support for the bill overall, but in a submission to parliament cautioned it mustn’t be used to separate children from families that might be involved in polygamy. It calls the forced marriage provisions “welcome” but also warns the bill should be studied carefully and amended before a final vote.
The bill, tabled by Chris Alexander, minister of citizenship and immigration, was not amended in the Senate or by a House of Commons committee.
In 2013, the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario released a report detailing 219 cases of forced marriage between 2010 and its release. However, that group does not support Bill S-7. Instead, it says existing laws need to be better employed to combat forced marriages, instead of passing this new law that targets immigrant and racialized communities.
The Schlifer Clinic, which runs a forced marriage clinic in Toronto, has expressed similar concerns, saying “the proposed Act is not responsive to survivors and furthers marginalization of racialized communities in Canada. The Clinic will follow up this statement with further information and analysis.
“While we agree that prevention is important in the discussion around forced marriage in Canada, we believe that education is the most effective preventative tool in this debate,” a statement from the clinic reads. It notes the laws could make it harder, not easier, for women who need help to seek it and warns it could even “criminalize” women who need help or keep them from immigrating for “perceived” marital status.
The government has repeatedly defended the bill as a necessary measure to protect women and demonstrate “we will not tolerate cultural traditions that deprive individuals of their human rights.”
“Early and forced marriages, ‘honour’-based violence, and polygamy will not be tolerated on Canadian soil,” Alexander said in Facebook post about the bill.
The bill is through the senate and is now ready for a final vote in the house of commons. It could become law before MPs rise for the summer, likely not to return until after the election expected in October.
source: National Post