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Woman Who Forced Pakistani Daughter Into Marriage Convicted In England


An Amnesty International protest to denounce child marriage in October 2016 in Rome

A mother who tricked her teenage daughter into traveling to Pakistan to marry an older man has become the first person in England to be convicted of forced marriage.

Rights advocates said the landmark conviction in a Birmingham court on May 22 will send a strong message to families thinking of coercing their daughters into marriage, and will empower more girls to speak out.

The case involved a 13-year-old girl who was betrothed to a man 16 years her senior on a visit to Pakistan.

The man had sex with her and the girl underwent an abortion on her return to Britain, prosecutors said.

The mother, who cannot be named without disclosing the identity of her daughter, took her daughter back to Pakistan in 2016 under the guise of a holiday. But after they arrived the girl was told she would be married.

When she protested, her mother assaulted her and threatened to burn her passport, prosecutors said.

On the day of the wedding after the girl turned 18, she was forced to sign a marriage certificate, prosecutors said, and the mother returned to Britain without her daughter.

Britain banned forced marriage in 2014. The maximum penalty is seven years' imprisonment. The mother is to be sentenced on May 23.

The government's Forced Marriage Unit received reports of nearly 2,000 cases last year, many involving girls from South Asian backgrounds.

"Many victims don't actually acknowledge that they are being abused because they are conditioned to believe that when they get to an age of marriage their parents choose who they marry," said Natasha Rattu, a lawyer with Karma Nirvana, a British charity that supports victims of honor-based abuse and forced marriage..

"But we are sending out a strong message that they have the choice -- and if they are being forced, there are consequences."

Based on reporting by AFP, Reuters, and AP
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