Archive for November, 2013

Forced marriage: Ayesha was repeatedly beaten, raped and then twice almost murdered by her own family

She grew up like most teenage girls in Britain – coveting the latest fashions, experimenting with make-up and hanging out with her mates after school.


Her Muslim parents, who ran a shop, were respected members of the community. Ayesha, whose name we have changed to protect her identity, was always encouraged to follow her dream of becoming a police officer. But immediately she turned 18, she was taken on a family holiday to Pakistan – and her carefree life would never be the same again. Days after arriving, she was forced by her father and two uncles into marrying a stranger.

Terrifyingly, it led to her being trapped in a marriage for four-and-a-half years, during which she was routinely raped. When she dared to complain, she was threatened by her uncles. And when she tried to flee, they tracked her down and tried to kill her. Ayesha eventually escaped, and today bravely tells her story to expose the growing problem of forced arranged marriages that is sweeping our towns and cities.

Each year 10,000 take place in the UK, and last month a shocking ITV documentary caught 12 Muslim clerics agreeing to marry off girls aged only 14. Those youngsters who put up a fight often fall victim to honour-based violence, which can end in murder. even now Ayesha lives in hiding to protect herself.

As part of her campaign to raise awareness, she works with the police to help support other victims. Ayesha, now 36, says she enjoyed a “pretty normal school life”. She adds: “My parents were strict about not being allowed to mix with boys, go clubbing, have sleepovers or bare my legs. But apart from that I had a relaxed upbringing.” She reveals how aged 17 she begged to be allowed to live in a flat-share while attending college.

“My parents finally gave in,” she says. “I went to the pub, had a drink and smoked, but didn’t go off the rails. Then things started to get weird. “My uncle started turning up on my doorstep, saying I was bringing shame on our family. He said that if I ever left, he had a network of people and he would find me and kill me.

“I didn’t want to live the life of an Asian Muslim girl. I was British and I wanted to be just like everyone else… so I ran.” But her family used a series of tricks to find her. “First they reported me to the police for theft,” she says.
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UK Muslims on challenging extremism and radicalisation

Four in five British people want a ban on the wearing of the niqab in public places, but the UK government looks unlikely to bring in legislation.

The wearing of the veil, along with attitudes to women, the radicalisation of some young British Muslims, sexual exploitation and grooming cases, forced marriages, and honour-based violence raise questions for Muslims in Britain today.


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Judge admits he is powerless to quash marriage of British Muslim girl who was taken to Pakistan and forced to wed at gunpoint aged 14

A judge says he cannot nullify the marriage of a teenage mother who says she was forced at ‘gunpoint’ into becoming a bride when she was just 14.

Instead the girl, now 17 and a mother of a one-year-old, must defy her family if she wants the union formally annulled, said Mr Justice Holman at the High Court.

The teenager, who was born in Britain and whose family has lived here for 40 years, says she was shipped out to Pakistan to contract a forced marriage with a 24-year-old man two years ago.

She told how she was subjected to ‘harrowing’ violence and menaced with a gun to go through with the ceremony – and was two weeks later forced to have sex with her ‘husband’, giving birth to his baby who is now aged just over one.

After she came forward with her account, her local authority took both her and her baby into care and asked Mr Justice Holman to formally declare that her marriage – which effectively made her a rape victim – could never have been recognised under English law.

However, in a unique decision, the judge ruled that – although the girl was under extreme duress and aged under 16 at the time – he was barred by statute from granting a declaration that her marriage was ‘at its inception, void’.

Expressing sympathy for the girl and the ‘real stigma’ she faced, the judge said his hands were tied and he simply had no power to make a formal ruling that ‘there never was a marriage’ capable of recognition in England and Wales.

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Court refuses declaration of non-recognition of forced marriage of 14 year old girl

Declaration barred by section 58(5) of Family Law Act 1986

Mr Justice Holman has dismissed an application, brought by a local authority in the course of care proceedings, for a declaration of non-recognition of the marriage of a British girl, then 14, conducted in Pakistan under circumstances of extreme duress.

In A Local Authority v X & Anor [2013] EWHC 3274 (Fam) the court heard that X, the girl, was born in England in 1997. Her parents had immigrated to England from Pakistan some 40 years earlier. In 2011, aged 14, X travelled with her father and brother to Pakistan where, under considerable duress involving the production of a gun and physical violence upon her, she underwent a ceremony of marriage to a 24 year old man. The marriage was consummated two weeks later and X became pregnant. She returned to England and the baby was born in the autumn of 2012. The local authority commenced care proceedings in relation to X and the baby.
Within the care proceedings the local authority, with the support of X through her Guardian, sought a declaration of non-recognition of the marriage in Pakistan.

The court found that X was domiciled in England at the time of the marriage and the validity of the marriage was therefore governed by the Marriage Act 1949. Pursuant to that Act which stipulates that a marriage between persons either of whom is under 16 shall be void, the marriage was found to be void.  The case of Pugh v Pugh [1951] P 482 establishing that the statutory provisions as to minimum age are extra-territorial in effect was approved.

Holman J said:

“On the facts as I have recounted them, there is no question but that X herself, who is now approaching the age of seventeen, could present a petition for nullity on the ground that her marriage is void on the ground that at the date of the marriage she was under the age of sixteen.”  However, Vanessa Meachin, counsel for X, said that it was too much to expect X, at any rate at her present age and stage in life, herself to take an active step that would be so defiant of her parents and family as herself to petition for a decree that the marriage that they forced her to enter into was void.


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CPS officers to attend Honour based violence conference

Author Aruna Papp to speak at honour based violence conference

Honour based violence

Aruna Papp, author of Unworthy Creature, will be one of the presenters at the honour based violence conference in Calgary next week.

On November 12 and 13, the Alberta Community Crime Prevention Association (ACCPA) will host a conference on honour based violence.

The conference is being held to educate police, justice personnel, lawyers, teachers, counsellors, health care providers, judges, prosecutors and the general public on honour based violence. At the heart of honour based violence is the belief that women are inferior.  Violent crimes are usually committed against women by their male family members who believe the women have damaged the family’s honour.  The conference hopes to educate police and health care professionals on the prevention of honour based violence.

Worldwide, there are at least 5,000 honour based killings annually, however, that number is likely much higher as thousands of crimes are misreported as suicides or accidents or simply ignored.


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Girl, 14, pregnant after Pakistan forced marriage, judge says

 14-year-old girl became pregnant after being taken to Pakistan by her father and forced to marry a man, a judge has said.

She was subjected to violence during which a gun was produced, according to Mr Justice Holman. The girl returned to England where she gave birth. Details emerged in a written ruling following a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in Birmingham.


Two weeks after the ceremony, the marriage was consummated, the ruling said. The judge said: “The girl has given an account of the circumstances surrounding that marriage which are, frankly, harrowing. “On her account… this was a grave example of a marriage which was forced under considerable duress, involving at one stage the production of a gun and physical violence upon her.

“The marriage was consummated about two weeks later after further threats to her if she did not permit her husband, who was then aged about 24, to have sexual intercourse with her. “As a result, while still aged 14, she became pregnant.”

Local authority officials wanted the marriage nullified, but the judge said the girl would have to initiate proceedings herself for this to take place.


Groups dealing with ‘honour’ crime victims need better tools: women’s council

Quebec’s Council for the Status of Women says groups that deal with children and families should be given better tools on dealing with cultural differences and so-called ‘honour’ crimes.

The Council studied 26 instances of honour crimes that have taken place in Canada since 1991. Twenty-one of those women or girls were murdered; five survived their attacks. Researchers, however, say the numbers could be higher and much is hidden.

The four murders of the Shafia women and girls in 2009 is considered the most severe case.

In fact it was the Shafia murders that prompted the provincial government to ask the Council to examine honour crimes and see what could be done to stop them.

“We feel it’s urgent to train the groups; the social workers who are dealing with potential victims of honour-based violence, said Julie Miville-Dechene, president of the Council on the Status of Women.  The analysis says in many ways honour crimes are similar to conjugal violence, except that instead of just one person attempting to control a woman, with honour crimes members of an extended family can seek to exert control over a woman or girl.

Honour crimes can consist of confining a woman to her home, forcing her to wear certain clothing, arranged marriages, genital mutilation or murder. “These violent acts are not exclusive to any one culture or religion,” said Miville-Dechene. “It wasn’t that long ago that in Quebec underage and unmarried women were sent away from home if they got pregnant,” and often forced to give up their children.

The Council said there should be legal changes made to make it easier to grant injunctions against family members — and not just spouses. “What we are saying is that in certain cases related to honour-crime violence, parents could be complicit,” said Miville-Dechene.

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UK Child Brides Victims of ‘Cultural Sensitivity’

The original tale may be apocryphal, but the story of the silver spoon has saved the lives of hundreds of British Muslim girls being forced into marriage by their parents. “Put a spoon in your knickers,” a counselor at the British organization Karma Nirvanatold a young girl being sent abroad to wed against her will. Karma Nirvana attends to the needs of girls being threatened with forced marriage, many of whom are under the age of 17.

The idea behind the plot was simple, but ingenious: the spoon would set off alarms at airport security, whereupon the unwilling bride-to-be could explain her situation to a law enforcement officer who could then intervene to protect her.

The ploy evidently worked, and has been adopted since by other young women in the UK, most of them British-born, who are sent to their parents’ original homes and villages in Pakistan, Bangladesh and elsewhere to marry first cousins they have never met, conscribed to a life of servitude and worse.

It’s a trick more and more girls seem to need. According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Britain’s Forced Marriage Unit took in 1,485 such cases in 2012. And that’s just a drop in the proverbial bucket. Britain’s Chief Prosecutor Nazir Afzal told the ABC, “There are probably between 8,000 to 10,000 forced marriages or threats of forced marriage in the UK every year.” Even more shocking, according to the FMU, of those, nearly 1,500, or “thirteen percent involved victims below 15 years [and] 22 percent involved victims aged 16-17.” One victim was merely 2 years old; another, at the other end of the spectrum, was 71.


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Aruna Papp grew up amid honour-based violence in India. Today she’s a world-recognized champion for vulnerable girls and women everywhere.

Pin-drop silence. That was the atmosphere on a sleepy summer Sunday when Aruna Papp, a lay member of Greenbank (Ont.) United, took the pulpit.

Greenbank United describes itself as “a friendly, country church,” and the town is a go-to destination for butter tarts and country drives. It feels about as far away from the horrible reality of honour-based violence as you can get. But that was the topic of Aruna Papp’s sermon as she preached a hard message to the congregation that has embraced her.

Forty-nine years ago, as a young teenager growing up in India, she witnessed a beautiful girl in her community being burned alive outside her home. Papp’s young neighbour was killed by her brothers for refusing to marry a man twice her age, who was going to help the brothers with a business venture. Refusal was not an option.

It was the first honour killing Papp would experience. It would not be the last.

Honour-based violence is a topic she knows intimately. As a child in India, she herself was a victim of repeated honour-based violence, a story painfully and powerfully outlined in her 2012 autobiography, Unworthy Creature: A Punjabi Daughter’s Memoir of Honour, Shame and Love. Papp’s mother, father and grandmother physically and verbally abused her. Later, her husband did the same. “Being a girl, that was my fate. Everyone else was experiencing the same thing. I saw baby girls left on garbage heaps and girls set on fire,” she says. “In my context growing up in India, it seemed like the norm. I didn’t know there was an option.”

From that pain-filled beginning, Papp has transformed herself into an educator, activist and advocate on honour-based violence in Canada and around the world. Her journey includes an exodus from the Seventh Day Adventist Church in which she was raised, followed by years in the spiritual wilderness. She eventually found a new religious home in the welcoming sanctuary of Greenbank United.

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Father guilty of honour killing murder

A FATHER who set fire to his house, killing his wife and seriously injuring his three daughters and a family friend, has been found guilty of murder and arson, but not guilty of the attempted murder of his daughters.

Birmingham Crown Court heard how 56-year-old Mohammed Riaz Inayat deliberately set fire to his house in Cateswell Road, Hall Green in the early hours of April 17 last year in order to stop his daughter from flying out to Dubai to marry her boyfriend as he believed it would bring dishonour to the family.

His daughter and wife were due to catch a flight to Dubai later that same day where she was going to get married.

While his wife, three daughters and a family friend slept upstairs, the defendant used petrol as an accelerant both upstairs and downstairs in the family home and then set it on fire, trapping his family upstairs. Neighbours called the emergency services and they tried in vain to rescue the occupants of the house. The three daughters and family friend jumped from the first floor bedroom windows resulting in them suffering broken bones and burns.

When the fire service arrived they entered the house and the found the body of the defendant’s wife, Naika Inayat, in one of the upstairs bedrooms. She had died as a result of smoke inhalation.

Read more: Father guilty of honour killing murder | Solihull Observer

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