He struck his wife and threw tins of cat food at her

The Guardian reports on an arranged marriage that turned out to be enslavement.

A man who treated his wife as a slave and subjected her to an existence of “violence, intimidation, aggression and misery” has been jailed following a pioneering trial which saw him become the first Briton convicted of forcing their spouse into domestic servitude.

Prosecutors and police said they hoped the case of Safraz Ahmed, a 34-year-old mechanic from south London who abused, demeaned and taunted Sumara Iram over a two-year period, could see more potential victims come forward.

Ahmed subjected Iram to “physical and mental torture” after she came to the UK from Pakistan in late 2012 for an arranged marriage into which she entered willingly and with initially high hopes, Woolwich crown court was told.

He struck his wife, threw tins of cat food at her, sent streams of abusive and demeaning text messages, and once told her to jump in front of a vehicle or into a river, the judge, Christopher Hehir, was told.

Iram says she wasn’t allowed to leave the house alone or to make friends.

I cooked, I cleaned, I washed, I ironed, looked after other people’s children and when things were not to the liking of the family I was punished by beatings. I felt that there was only one purpose of my life and that was to serve this family.

Of course that’s always been what many people have understood marriage to mean.

Ahmed admitted enforced domestic servitude, for which he was jailed for two years, and assault causing actual bodily harm for breaking her nose, for which he received an eight-month term. The sentences will run concurrently, meaning he could be free within 12 months, less than half the time that Iram lived under his control.

And no broken nose.

Ahmed had once hit his wife for, as he viewed it, failing to tend properly to his sister, the court heard. If the family told her to “stand on one leg” she should do it without question, she said.

Iram came to police attention in February 2014 after neighbours saw her outside the family home in just a dress and flip-flops, before her husband dragged her back inside by her hair.

Officers realised she had a broken nose and black eye and arrested Ahmed, but they released him the next day when Iram signed a document asking for him to be freed, saying she was not under pressure.

Following the conviction police accepted they could have removed Iram then, sparing her another 18 months with her husband.

Not to mention her husband’s family, who must have helped him keep her prisoner.

Polly Harrar, the founder of the Sharan Project, which helps victims of forced marriages from south Asian communites, said the conviction suggested there were large numbers of victims living similarly restricted lives in the UK.

“This case will open the door to more prosecutions,” she said. “This woman was restricted in terms of going outside the home. She was brought here to be a slave in effect. This is just the tip of an iceberg. We have dealt with many similar cases. This case is really good for raising awareness of the problem.”

Up to a point. I wonder if Iram is worried about retribution when he gets out in a year.

H/t Barry Duke

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