A 34-year-old Cardiff man has become the first person in the UK to be prosecuted under forced marriage laws introduced a year ago.
The man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was jailed for 16 years after admitting making a 25-year-old woman marry him under duress last year.
He also pleaded guilty to charges of rape, bigamy and voyeurism at Merthyr Crown Court.
The “under duress” sounds mild. The details are not mild.
The judge said the offences began when the woman became engaged last year and in March 2014 he took her to his house under the pretence of having a meal with his wife.
“Your house was empty, you locked the front door and drew the curtains, you ignored her pleas to let her go and threw her mobile phone away and bound and gagged her with scarves belonging to your wife,” he said.
“You tied her hands behind her back, she was bruised by the ties and she couldn’t breathe. She almost passed out and then you raped her.
“She was a virgin, something which you knew and something which you used to ensure her silence. You took her innocence to ensure her silence.”
Not the best wording, since having sex shouldn’t equate with guilt, but the point is that’s hardly the pleasantest way to stop being a virgin. The point is also that sex in fact is seen as guilt for a woman by many people, and that a raped virgin is seen as damaged goods, tainted, used up. In that sense the perp took her cleanness, her purity, her eligibility for marriage, and that he did it on purpose. Ugly.
This isn’t the standard kind of forced marriage though. In a way it seems like a bad idea to make this kind the first prosecution, because it’s not the paradigm.