A judge in the United Kingdom recently ruled that a woman who sustained a severe head injury during a past violent rape was ‘married off’ by her father for money in a deal designed to improve the husband’s U.K. immigration prospects.
The case was heard in the Court of Protection, a special court dedicated to cases involving people who lack the mental capacity to make decisions. The judge ruled that the Islamic ceremony, which took place at the Northampton Islamic Center and was solemnized by an imam, was “arranged entirely” by the mentally challenged woman’s father and her husband.
Also at issue for the judge was the father’s spending of his daughter’s money “for his own purposes” and with no intention of repaying her. Contending that the woman was “unquestionably married under the influence of her father” and that the marriage occurred when the woman was “vulnerable to influence,” the judge concluded that the marriage is not valid under U.K. law.
Testimony from multiple witnesses, including medical specialists and an expert in Islamic law, led the judge to decide that the “primary motive” of the husband in the case was to “achieve an improved immigration status.”
The judge found the motives of the woman’s father “more difficult to discern,” and issued a written ruling that read, “I conclude that he acted partly to assist [the husband] in his immigration application but also because he thought it would be right for [his daughter], and the family as a whole, for her to be married.”
A 2017 survey conducted for Channel 4 suggested that a large majority of marriages involving Muslims in Britain are not valid under U.K. law. Almost two-thirds of married Muslim women reported being wed in Nikah ceremonies, which leaves them unprotected in family courts.
Female Muslim researchers conducted the survey of 923 women, which revealed a significant number of women living in polygamous arrangements — 37 percent of whom admitted being forced into the situation against their will.