Businessman used spy camera to film muslim woman showering and then used footage to blackmail her to marry him
Man who raped and blackmailed devout Muslim woman into becoming his wife using secret shower film jailed for 16 years in legal first in UK
A businessman who secretly filmed a devout Muslim woman taking a shower to blackmail her into becoming his second wife has become the first person in UK to be jailed for forced marriage.
The 34-year-old from Cardiff was sentenced to 16 years in prison for a catalogue of charges including rape, bigamy, voyeurism and the new offence of forced marriage in a landmark conviction following a campaign for a change in the law stretching back almost a quarter of a century.
Judge Daniel Williams, sitting at Merthyr Crown Court in Wales, praised the victim, who cannot be identified, for her “courage and fortitude” despite suffering “irreparable harm”.
The conviction was hailed as a “huge victory” by campaigners who pressed for forced marriage to be made a specific criminal offence to help stamp out the practice in Britain’s communities.
Jasvinder Sanghera, who helped persuade British Prime Minister David Cameron to change the law, said she hoped the first conviction would send a powerful message to victims but also help stop social workers “tiptoeing” around the issue for fear of being accused of racism.
Ms Sanghera, herself a former victim of honour violence, who now runs the charity Karma Nirvana and the support group and helpline 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.”
The judge outlined how the man, who claimed to be a devout Muslim, tricked the 25-year-old woman, who was a virgin at the time, 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.
It was the latest in a series of changes which the judge said the man attempted to use as an "exercise of control" over the woman throughout the process.
"While you have pleaded guilty ... there has been no genuine show of remorse," he said.
“Over the period of which you raped her ... it was your intention to cause her irreparable harm so that no one would want her.”
He also praised the victim's bravery in coming forward.
"She has continued to show courage and fortitude ... and the court wishes her good fortune for the future – which she so richly deserves," he said
Forced marriage was criminalised under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 and came into force last June.
Iwan Jenkins, Head of the Rape and Serious Sexual Offences Unit at Crown Prosecution Wales, said: “Forced marriage wrecks lives and destroys families.
“We hope that today's sentence sends a strong message that forced marriage will not be tolerated in today's Britain.
“The victim has shown great courage and bravery in reporting these matters.”
Ms Sanghera added: “It became law in June last year in the face of a lot of opposition, we had barristers’ chambers arguing for it not to be law, you had campaign groups saying it will not encourage victims to report, we have had a lot of people wanting it to fail.
“What we’ve noticed is the change of the law is an increase in the number of police forces wanting to engage with our organisation … the law brings with it a shift in accountability and a shift in attitudes.
“We still have to raise awareness that this law even exists.
“Some victims don’t know it exists – some professionals don’t know it exists.”