Parents found guilty of luring daughter to Bangladesh for forced marriage to cousin

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LEEDS: A couple have been convicted of forced marriage charges after luring their 19-yearold daughter to Bangladesh in a bid to make her wed her first cousin.
The teenager, from Leeds, was taken on a sham holiday by her parents, who beat her to pressure her into going through with the wedding. They told her she would be expected to have a child with her cousin once she had married him and would “bring shame” upon the family if she did not, Leeds Crown Court heard. On Tuesday, a jury of 11 men and one woman convicted her parents of forced marriage following a three-week trial. The couple, who cannot be named to protect their daughter’s anonymity, were also found guilty of using violence, threats or coercion to force her into the wedding. According to an Independent and other media reports, the verdict came less than a week after a woman was jailed for four-and-a-half years at Birmingham Crown Court for forcing her daughter to marry in Pakistan.
That conviction was the first successful prosecution of its type in the UK.
Jurors in the Leeds case heard the girl’s parents had told her they were going on a six-week holiday to Bangladesh to visit relatives and celebrate Eid. However, just days after arriving on 3 July 2016,she was told by her father that he had found a husband for her. “He said ‘I have planned this for years, the guy is really suitable, I’ve given him money for university, and he’s a really attractive guy for round here’,” the victim told the court in a pre-recorded video.
“He was trying to get me to say yes, but at no point did I say yes. I thought it was disgusting because it was my first cousin and stood my ground.” The teenager was told she would “live like a queen” and that rejecting the proposal would “bring shame” on her parents. She said: “As the days went by, verbal abuse turned to physical abuse and my dad hit me over the head one day. It was so bad that the whole room literally went black.” Her mother pressured her father into hitting her again in the hope it would stop her “rebelling” against the marriage, the court heard. T
he teenager, who was studying for her A-levels at the time, had told her mother that even if she was forced to marry she would file a report to authorities informing them of what had happened.“But my mum said there was no way that that would happen, because they were going to leave me there for a year so that I would get pregnant so that [her cousin] could get a visa,” she told the jury.
With the help of her younger sister, she was able to contact the British High Commission, who rescued her days before the wedding was due to take place. She also contacted her boyfriend, who was alerted British police.
Her parents will be sentenced at the same court on 18 June. Bangladesh does not have a specific law criminalising forced marriage, but a couple are each required to consent for a wedding to be valid.