London - A middle-aged mother on Tuesday became the first person in England convicted under laws against forced marriage.
A court heard she had "groomed" her 17-year-old daughter into going to Pakistan to marry a cousin aged 33.
During a previous visit the girl had been forced into an official engagement with the same man, who took her virginity when she was just 13 and left her pregnant.
Jurors were told that the 45-year-old mother – who cannot be named for legal reasons – grabbed the teenager’s arm and frogmarched her to the wedding ceremony despite her tearful pleas that she did not want to get married.
The girl had been persuaded to fly to Pakistan for a ‘holiday’ with the promise of an iPhone for her 18th birthday.
Afterwards, her mother threatened to rip up the girl’s passport and threatened her with "black magic" if she told authorities back home what had happened, jurors were told.
The mother of four from Birmingham was found guilty at the city’s crown court of deception intending to cause the girl to leave the country for a forced marriage, arranging a forced marriage, and perjury. She was cleared of perverting the course of justice and is due to be sentenced on Wednesday.
The court had heard how the girl was visited by an imam during her initial visit to Pakistan at 13. He made her sign a "marriage contract" with the nephew of her mother’s second husband, who later had sex with her.
She had an abortion back in Britain and her GP reported the case to children’s services. But an investigation was dropped when the mother suggested that the girl had "sneakily" had sex with a fellow teenager on a family holiday.
During a ten-day trial, prosecutor Deborah Gould, said the mother had "groomed" her daughter to get her out of the UK.
"Once in Pakistan she coerced her into marrying a man, the son of her husband’s brother. She left her daughter after the wedding and returned to the UK where she discovered that her daughter had managed to get messages home to her father and sisters.
"The mother was summonsed to the High Court where she was asked on oath whether her daughter had been married in Pakistan. She lied and said she had not."
The court was told that the girl’s abortion in 2012 resulted in "significant trauma". She turned to drugs and drink and was sexually exploited and raped. She was put into voluntary council care at that point but by 2016 she was back in touch with her mother.
Birmingham Children’s Services had authorised the second trip to Pakistan but made the mother sign a document to ensure her daughter’s safety. But the court heard she had "no intention of honouring the contract".
The victim told jurors: "We had to walk from the stairs to the stage and I was trying to tell my mum that I don’t want to get married and that’s when my mum was holding my arm to take me there.
"When I sat down they started taking pictures and making a video. I told my mum I didn’t want to get married and I was crying.
"I didn’t want him to put [the ring] on my hand because I didn’t want to get married to him."
Children’s services took legal action to get the victim back from Pakistan under a Forced Marriage Protection Order. These were introduced in 2014 and courts are thought to have granted around 1 500 orders to stop some victims being taken out of the country and to get others repatriated.
But 2016 figures showed hardly any prosecutions, with many cases where the victims were too scared to give evidence. The only other UK conviction is of a Cardiff businessman who in 2015 was jailed for 16 years for rape, bigamy, voyeurism and forced marriage.
Detective Sergeant Pal Singh of the Metropolitan Police has accused prosecutors of dropping forced marriage and ‘honour crime’ cases for fear of causing unrest in Asian communities.
After the verdicts, it was revealed that the mother’s relatives had been accused of making threats and offering payments to the victim and her new boyfriend if they stopped co-operating with prosecutors. The court heard there was no evidence that the defendant was involved in the threats.