A 34-year-old businessman from Cardiff has been jailed for filming a Muslim woman taking a shower to blackmail her into becoming his second wife in Britain’s first successful prosecution for forced marriage.
The man was sent to prison for 16 years after being convicted on a number of charges, including rape, bigamy, voyeurism as well as forced marriage.
The case comes after a decades-long campaign for a change in legislation, making forced marriage a criminal offence.
The new law came into force in June last year.
Previously, courts have only been able to issue difficult to enforce civil orders to prevent victims being forced into marriage.
Judge Daniel Williams, sitting at Merthyr Crown Court, praised the victim, who cannot be identified, for her “courage and fortitude” despite suffering “irreparable harm”.
The Court heard how the man, who claimed to be a devout Muslim, tricked his 25-year-old victim into his house and raped her before setting about exploiting ideas about shame to force her into becoming his wife in the belief that no other men would now consider her “marriage material”.
Despite already being married, he had developed an “irrational obsession” with his victim, the court heard. He lured her to his home under the guise of a get-together with friends. But she went inside it was empty, the curtains were drawn and the front door locked.
She was then bound and gagged with scarves and raped with music playing loudly to drown out her cries for help. The man then allowed her to take a shower only to film her with a camera hidden in a shower rail.
He then played her the footage on a laptop and threatened to make it public unless she married him – an act of blackmail backed up with threats that her parents would be killed.
The court also heard he had pursued his victim for years, at one point even setting up a fake Facebook page to convince her that her then boyfriend was gay.
The businessman went on trial last month but changed his pleas to the charges guilty shortly before his victim was due to give evidence.
Addressing the man, Judge Williams said: “While you have pleaded guilty … there has been no genuine show of remorse. Over the period of which you raped her … it was your intention to cause her irreparable harm so that no one would want her.”
Campaign group the Honour Network, said: “For 23 years we have been fighting to make people aware of this. We have professionals who tiptoe around the issue – creating law empowers professionals to respond to those people without being accused of racism.
“It may seem like a small victory but it is huge. It says if you decide to pursue a conviction you will be supported.”