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Posts Tagged ‘forced marriage’

Marriage Hell: My abusive arranged husband kicked me so hard our baby died & threatened to torch our house after I refused an abortion

PEERING out of her bedroom window at the 12ft drop below, Tina Kenworthy uttered terrifying instructions that would send a chill through any parent: “Throw the quilt down and jump!”

The frightened mum was teaching her sons how to escape their three-bedroom home in Leicester, in case her “monster husband” carried out his vile threat to burn down their house with them inside.

Tina, 49, had every reason to fear he’d go through with it – she claims he’d already dragged her down the stairs by her hair, beaten her up and kicked her in the stomach while she was pregnant.

After meeting her husband just twice, she was pressured into marrying him when she was 23.

Tina fell pregnant two months later, and says she noticed a radical change in his personality.

By the time their fourth son was born in 2007, she claims he was drinking excessively and taking drugs – and if she refused to have sex with him, he would attack her.

After 13 years of “torment”, Tina finally separated from her husband, but was dealt a devastating final blow – he left her in £40,000 of debt. 

Customer service team leader Tina has finally found happiness with a new partner, despite her family struggling to accept him at first because he wasn’t “chosen” for her and came from a different community.

She hopes by sharing her experience, it will encourage others in situations like hers to seek help and find a way out of abusive relationships.

Tina tells The Sun: “I felt like there was no escape. My husband became controlling very early on in our marriage and when he started to drink he would hit me for no reason.

“I tried to leave him multiple times and fled to women’s refuges but I didn’t feel strong enough or able to leave him for good.

“One of the worst times was when I was pregnant with our second child. He wanted me to have an abortion but I couldn’t do it and he turned really, really nasty.

“He kicked me in the stomach so hard that my baby stopped moving. Even after I had a stillbirth, I didn’t feel I could report how he was treating me to the police.

“Another time in the early hours of the morning, he grabbed a chunk of my hair and pulled me down the stairs to the kitchen because I refused to cook for him.

“At that time I was having panic attacks in the middle of the night and slept with my bedroom door locked and a knife under my pillow just so I could feel safe.

“I had to teach our boys how to jump out of the window because he threatened to set our house on fire while we were sleeping to burn us all alive.

He kicked me in the stomach so hard that my baby stopped movingTina Kenworthy

“During the worst parts of the marriage, I considered suicide because I couldn’t see another way out but I knew I couldn’t leave my boys with such a monster.

“It’s a miracle I survived and thankfully, I’ve now found a husband who truly loves me. I’m still dealing with the emotional abuse but I’m thriving and getting my life back on track.”

Pressured into marriage

Tina, who’s a Hindu, says the fear of “bringing shame” upon her family prevented her from feeling able to leave her husband sooner and her relatives often stressed divorce “was not an option”.

She was born in a small village in Shahkot in Punjab, India, and two years after moving to Britain in 1993, she returned to marry a stranger 18 months her senior.

She claims it wasn’t a forced marriage but it was “rushed” and she didn’t have time to get to know her future husband.

After returning to the UK she soon began to feel “trapped” by her husband’s increasingly manipulative behaviour.

After losing her second child in June 1997, Tina’s mental health nosedived and she became reliant on antidepressants.

Due to her husband controlling their finances, she struggled to find a way out of their marriage.

I couldn’t say no to him, if I did he would beat me up or tell my family I was not being a good wifeTina Kenworthy

She explains: “I was looking for a way to escape and the only way I knew how was to improve my education so that I could become financially independent.

“When I started university he became even more aggressive because he was losing control over my life and doors were opening up for me.

“In his eyes, he had control over my body. We were sleeping in separate rooms and he would force himself on me regularly.

“I couldn’t say no to him, if I did he would beat me up or tell my family I was not being a good wife.

“Due to him being a man they would take his side nine out of 10 times.”

Masked abuse

Tina claims her ex-husband would put on a front while visiting her relatives and played happy families so they would never suspect a thing.

“He was so manipulative, we would have a fight and then in front of my family he would be laughing, smiling and telling them how much he loved me,” she adds.

Tina claims she called the police at least 15 times during their marriage.

“In 2003, he was charged with actual bodily harm for assaulting me really badly, but pleaded guilty to common assault,” she recalls. 

“At that time he was truly horrible to live with, when he was drunk he would shout, scream and threaten to break the door down.

“In our culture, when you’re married you are your husband’s responsibility, which leaves so many ladies and young girls trapped in abusive relationships.”

In 2008, Tina finally left her husband after receiving advice from a women’s refuge about how to get a divorce and apply for financial assistance. 

He was so manipulative, we would have a fight and then in front of my family he would be laughing, smiling and telling them how much he loved meTina Kenworthy

She underwent a support recovery programme from the Helping Other People Everyday (H.O.P.E.) Training, which helped her to work through the trauma she endured.

“I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved, I’m empowered and believe in myself more than ever thanks to the counselling I’ve received,” Tina says.

“There are bad days but I have worked to become independent, mentally stronger and able to cope financially.”

Since their divorce was finalised in 2012, Tina claims she has not seen her ex-husband after he “fled”.

“Looking back I’m a much stronger person now and despite him taking out £40,000 in personal loans, I’m working to pay off what we owe,” she says.

Finding love again

As Tina slowly pieced her life back together, she joined the online dating site eharmony in 2014. 

A year later she met Andrew Kenworthy and the relationship was a world away from what she’d experienced in the past.

They married in 2017, and Tina says she now knows what a loving relationship feels like.

“We have arguments like any couple but we listen to each other, can give our opinions without fear and speak honestly with one another,” she says.

“My boys see it too and tell me, ‘Mum, you deserve this.’ When I look back now I feel like I’m lucky to be alive and to have found such happiness.”

Honour-based abuse on the rise

Abuse after arranged and forced marriages have come into the spotlight after a spike in recorded crimes across the country. 

New figures reveal that ‘honour-based’ violence has risen 81 per cent in the last five years – from 884 in 2016 to 1,599 last year.

The data, which came from 28 out of 39 constabularies after freedom of information requests by The Guardian, didn’t surprise several charities who spoke to The Sun.

They said the true extent of the problem is considerably worse than the figures suggest because many people do not feel safe reporting abuse.  

Meena Kumari, of H.O.P.E. Training, and Yasmin Khan from The Halo Project, are calling for more to be done.

“I believe this rise is the tip of the iceberg,” Meena tells The Sun.

She believes specialist training should be compulsory for all police officers, constables and volunteers and a national strategy to ensure all crimes of this type are recorded.

Meena also has called for more funding to investigate the “low number of charges and fall in conviction rates” to work out how best to help victims.

Yasmin echoes these calls for better training to recognise the abuse and more assistance for those trying to leave abusive partners.

It’s estimated that between 12 and 15 people die each year in the UK from so-called “honour killings” – but Yasmin insists that figure is “a huge underestimation”.

Among the victims is Banaz Mahmod whose family plotted her murder in 2006 after she left an allegedly abusive marriage and chose a partner of her own choosing.

Yasmin says: “Families will not report a missing man or woman to the police and there are also people who have been taken abroad and killed.

“Some will go to great lengths to protect their family’s honour, including hiring bounty hunters. We need to do more and respond better to save lives.”

For information or help visit get in touch with the Halo ProjectH.O.P.E Training and Consultancy or Karma Nirvana.

Tina’s story will be published in the book The Story Of My Life book and also featured on the Positive Minds podcast, shared by the mental health charity Our Solutions CIC.

Saira Khan: ‘Growing up, I thought domestic abuse was part of our culture and normal’

When I was thrust into the media spotlight after being on The Apprentice in 2005, I vowed to use my platform to talk about life growing up in Britain.

From a young age I felt that while I was British – born and educated here – I was not represented.

At times, it felt like Asian matters were dealt with by unelected community leaders, while the rest of the population was accounted for by laws and MPs.

Many women like me, who try to straddle two distinct cultures, see and experience things that others never do – arranged marriages, forced marriages, child brides, cultural control.

Many come here from places like Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, with no knowledge of the language, and are forced to be dutiful maids at the mercy of the families they have been married into

This is a generalisation but, from what I saw growing up, it was a regular norm. That is my truth.

Some people accuse me of only highlighting negative stories from the South Asian culture.

The trolls come out in force, some issuing death threats, in the hope I will just shut up.

But I have always made a stand for the women in my community because so many can’t speak up.

They don’t know who to talk to without feeling judged. And they could be ­ostracised – or killed – for dishonouring their families.

The guilt bestowed upon Asian women from birth is indescribable. You learn to live with it but that guilt shapes every aspect of your life.

And it keeps the misogyny alive.

MPs don’t want to discuss the abuse in case they’re accused of being racist. But silence results in innocent women being abused, violated and murdered.

I grew up thinking it was acceptable for men to shout at women and that hitting is part of our culture and normal.

It isn’t. It’s domestic abuse and there are laws in this country to protect us from it.

We need this message to infiltrate all communities in Britain.

Why forced marriage?

What is the connection between forced marriage and slavery? At its core, slavery involves treating people as if they are property

When I was thirteen, even though I didn’t realise it at the time, I was incredibly lucky to be ‘suffering’ through high school and working at the local burger joint on weekends.

Not all girls are this fortunate.

Consider Shahida’s situation.

When Shahida was 13, her father arranged for her to marry a 45-year-old man who had promised her family money in exchange.

She was very unhappy with her husband but endured life with him for a year before running back to her home. Her father was very angry. He beat her and yelled at her to go back to her marriage, but Shahida thought that even this was not as bad as life with her husband. When she refused to return, her father dug a deep hole in the ground. He forced her into it and began covering her.

Shahida still wonders if he really would have buried her alive if the neighbours hadn’t heard her screaming and stopped him.

What is the connection between forced marriage and slavery? At its core, slavery involves treating people as if they are property. What can you do if you own a car or a mobile phone? You can drive it, you can sell it, give it away, trade it in, take it to the rubbish dump if you choose.

Shahida’s experience illustrates the connection between slavery and forced marriage only too well. Being traded for money like a piece of property. Forced to have sex with no regard to your health, physical or psychological, or other wants or needed. Being brutally threatened to be buried alive when you try to leave.

Double suicide tragedy as two 19-year-old girls are found hanged after they were forced to marry against their will in India

Two 19-year-old girls have been found hanged after they were forced to marry against their will in India.

Police discovered Asha Shrikant Burud and Swati Umesh Zanjare hanging from a tree in a jungle and instantly described their deaths as suicide. The two young women were married off in a mass ceremony at the start of the month in Ambegaon taluka, western India, and had gone missing 10 days later.

Their families, from the village of Asane, last saw them when they set off to gather wood and fruit in a nearby forest and reported them missing three days ago.

Police said they probably committed suicide because they were married off against their wishes.

Inspector Girish Dighavkar of the Ghodegaon police station said, ‘Based on the primary investigation, we believe that the two have committed suicide.

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Parents fined for breaching forced marriage order ‘were taking daughter to Pakistan to see dying grandparents’

Parents who tried to take their daughter to Pakistan to see her dying grandparents have been fined after flouting the terms of a forced marriage protection order.

The family, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were ‘detained’ by police at the departure gate at Manchester Airport. They were trying to board a flight to Pakistan with their teenage daughter and other family members in July 2015.

Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court heard that the couple were in breach of a forced marriage protection order imposed at Manchester Family Court in March 2015.  However defence lawyers for the family argued that the parents believed the order had been rescinded so the youngster could leave the country of her own free will.

The court heard that her mother had been acting on ‘egregious information’ from the police and social services.

District judge Samuel Goozee said there had been ‘a wholesale breakdown’ by the police, social services and the school in relation to the order.


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Marriage victims forced underground

In July 2014 it became a criminal offence to forced someone into marriage, but a Bristol-based charity says the law could be forcing victims to “go underground” rather than see their family charged.

Following a Freedom of Information request to HM Courts and Tribunal Service it was revealed that there have been “fewer than five forced marriage protection orders” made in Bristol since the introduction of the new legislation.

An order can help prevent people being married against their will, stop them being taken abroad to marry and force people to hand in passports.

“The Bristol statistics are disappointing and concerning and we need to find out why,” says Sabeena Suleman, a lawyer who helps run the Sky Project.

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Revealed: The number of court orders to protect people from forced marriages on Teesside

The Gazette asked the Ministry of Justice under Freedom of Information laws how many times this had happened at Teesside County Court .

Their response was that there were 20 applications for these orders between January 2010 and September 2015 at the court on Russell Street in Middlesbrough.

A total of six were granted.

The exclusive data we have obtained doesn’t go into any more details about the individual cases, or exactly what the terms of the orders were.

However, in general, Forced Marriage Protection Orders (FMPOs) can do things like stopping people getting married against their will, stopping being taken abroad to marry and compelling people to hand in passports.

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Forest Gate students organise forced marriage campaign

Everyone should have a choice in who they marry. That was the message at Azhar Academy Girls School, who arranged a forced marriage campaign to raise awareness of the issue.

Guest speakers at the school in Romford Road, Forest Gate, included representatives from the government’s Forced Marriage Unit and the Sharan project, which helps vulnerable women from south Asian communities.

Also speaking at the event was Cmdr Mak Chishty, the highest-ranking Muslim police officer in the UK.

Part of the afternoon saw girls and guests alike write statements on why they are against forced marriage, which were then put on display in the school.

They also learnt about the signs of forced marriage and where to go for support should they or a friend find themselves at risk.

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The girls who escaped ISIS – but still became child brides: Pictures of the tragic refugees who were forced to marry because their families can’t afford to keep them

Syrian girls as young as nine are being forced to marry men double their age to escape war and poverty in their homeland.

Pregnant mother-of-one Marwa, 15, was just 12 years old when she wed her husband, now 23, because her father could no longer afford to look after his large family.

And Rukayya, who is just 14 years old, was given a teddy bear as an engagement gift ahead of her own nuptials. They are just two of a whole generation of Syrian girls living in a makeshift camp in Hawsh el Harimi, which ironically means ‘place of women’, in Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, who have become child brides.

Photographer Laura Aggio Caldon, who is based in Italy, travelled to the village last year to document the girls’ distressing stories.

She said the marriages, caused by Syria’s civil war, are creating a ‘lost generation’, CNN reports. Writing on her website, Ms Caldon said: ‘Early marriages were practiced even before the Syrian crisis, but the impoverishment of families, poor security and the war have facilitated the rise of this phenomenon.

‘Marriages in refugee camps in Lebanon often involve girls of 11 to 13 years, and extreme cases of girls as young as nine years old.

‘Parents often give economic reasons and security to explain what pushes them into marrying off their daughters.’

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