The parents of a teenager from Leeds who was dramatically rescued from a forced marriage plot in Bangladesh as part of a West Yorkshire Police investigation were today sentenced to a total of eight years.
The man and woman were sentenced to four-and-a-half and three-and-a-half after being found guilty on 29 May at Leeds Crown Court of forced marriage offences under the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014.
-> Parents who tried to force daughter to marry cousin in Bangladesh jailed at Leeds Crown Court
In the first successful case of its kind, officers from Leeds District Safeguarding Unit worked closely with consular staff at the British High Commission in Bangladesh and the Foreign & Commonwealth office to secure the 18-year-old’s rescue and subsequent jailing of the two.
Detective Superintendent Pat Twiggs from West Yorkshire Police’s Homicide and Major Enquiry Team led the investigation. He said:
“A parent’s love for their child should be unequivocal and unconditional but they subjected their daughter to terrifying and harrowing ordeal.
“They threatened their own daughter with violence if she didn’t do as she was told, making reference to the fact that they had brought her up for 18 years with love, but that the dad would chop her up in 18 seconds if she disrespected him by not going through with the marriage.
“I don’t know how any parent can say that to their own child.
-> Jury told man found dead in Leeds prison cell was convicted baby murderer
“I have previously paid tribute to the victim in this ordeal – she is a remarkable young woman who has had her life turned upside down at a relatively young age. Her family have turned their back on her and alienated her siblings from her, which I know has been devastating.
“It would have been easy for her at any point to have found this all too much, but she has remained resolute throughout.
“I think she has clearly recognised how important it is for her to stand up, not just for herself but for other victims who will follow. I know she wants her case to show other victims that they can come forward to the authorities with confidence that they will be listened to and safeguarded.
“Arranged marriages between consenting parties are entirely legal, but the law does not allow anyone to force someone to marry against their will and we hope this case will send a suitable deterrent message to those who seek to control and exploit others in this way.”
Extracts from the victim’s own victim impact statement have been released to illustrate the ordeal she was subjected to:
“It is hard to explain the effect that this has had on me, I have had to learn to become a different person. I try not to remember what happened and don’t like to relive those moments, for me, it brings back so many emotions and I am trying not to be labelled as a victim. I don’t want what happened to me to define my life but at the same time, it already has done, it is only me who can now make that something positive.”
“I doubt that it will ever leave me but I have to be able to process it and not let it take over me.”
“I have had no contact with my father and only one phone call with my mother, she proved to me during that call that she had no intention of ever loving me or being sorry for what they had done. My thought was “you’re evil”
A timeline of the events according to West Yorkshire Police
Victim was in a relationship, was enjoying a normal school life and had sat her A Levels with plans to go to university
July 2016 – victim, now aged in her 20s – taken to a remote village in Bangladesh after her parents deceived her into thinking the trip was for a family holiday
Told her she was to be married to cousin, whether she agreed or not
Victim refused – parents threatened her with violence. Her phone was taken from her for a time
Once marriage plans became clear the victim enlisted the help of her sister and managed to contact her boyfriend in the UK
He contacted West Yorkshire police who began investigating and linked in with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to ensure her safety.
The Consular team managed to rescue her and took her to a place of safety and flown back to the UK
She then told officers at the Leeds District Safeguarding Unit of her ordeal and her parents were arrested days later when they flew back to the UK.
As part of the subsequent investigation officers went to Banglasesh twice to speak to witnesses and consular staff to gather evidence
The parents were then charged with forced marriage offences and appeared for the first time at Leeds Magistrates Court in July 2017
They were convicted on 29 May and sentenced today at Leeds Crown Court following a trial. They were found guilty of offences of forced marriage and using violence or a form of coercion.