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« on: August 19, 2008, 07:06:40 am »
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Facing jail: Violent husband who beat Muslim 'slave' bride 'every day' after arranged marriage

By Tamara Cohen
Last updated at 9:00 AM on 19th August 2008

A husband who constantly beat up his young wife and treated her as a 'slave' has been told he will be jailed.

Sania Bibi, 20, arrived in Britain from Pakistan following an arranged marriage to Haroon Akhtar and was forced to work 17-hour days cooking, cleaning and washing clothes for his family.

Her violent husband and his domineering mother Zafia Bibi, 50, threatened to shoot the terrified bride in the head if she did not follow their orders.

The victim told St Albans Crown Court she was attacked at least twice a day by her husband, with his mother egging him on.

On one occasion he threw her down the stairs after his mother complained she had not been doing her chores properly.

Her mother-in-law threatened that she would be sent back to Pakistan and shot in the head, as she was of no use to the family.

Akhtar, 28, was today convicted of five counts of actual bodily harm. The mother and son were also found guilty of causing fear of violence through harassment.

Judge Martin Griffiths, who will sentence the pair on September 11, told Akhtar: "These offences were so serious that only a custodial sentence can be considered."

During the trial, Mrs Bibi, who gave evidence from behind a screen, said she had never met her husband before their marriage ceremony in Pakistan in April 2006, when she was 18.

The pair moved in with his parents, brother, sister and her three children in Hemel Hempstead, where Mrs Bibi's gruelling days of housework lasted from 6am to 11pm.

Within a week of her arrival she suffered the first of many beatings from her husband, who screamed abuse at her before grabbing her by her hair and thrashing her against a window.

The tormented wife said her husband, an IT worker, would hit her every day before leaving for work and then again on his return.

Prosecutor George Heimler said Mrs Bibi had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of her terror.

He said: "Sania Bibi lived in an austere and oppressive regime which involved many long hours.

"She was regularly admonished for poor performance. Her husband told her he wanted to marry someone else. He punched her slapped her and she lived in a climate of isolation and despondency."

The jury heard that within days of his wife's arrival in the UK, Akhtar told her that he planned to remarry and would force her to look after his new bride's children.

Speaking through an interpreter, Mrs Bibi said: "I was told I had been brought here as a servant and I was told I had to do all the work.

"He said 'You are not good enough for me' and he would get married a second time and he would have children through his second marriage and I would have to take care of these children."

The jury of seven men and five women heard that when the teenager arrived in the UK her clothes and shoes and jewellery were immediately taken from her by her mother-in-law.

She was forced to wear pyjamas for her housework, and banned from answering the door, or using the telephone.

Mrs Bibi said her marriage was consummated over the first three days after her arrival, with her dictatorial mother-in-law inspecting the sheets to confirm she was a virgin.

She was then banished from marital bedroom to sleep on a settee in a box-room.

On one occasion Zafia Bibi was angry that she had not done the housework properly and called her son on the phone.

Sania Bibi told how he raced back to the house and attacked her in the bathroom before throwing her down the staircase.

Her mother-in-law would watch the attacks, urging her son to 'beat her more'.

When she visited her own relatives in Blackburn and told them what was happening, Mrs Bibi said: "They told me 'Now that you are married you have to stay there.

"It is family honour'. They said 'you belong to that family, you no longer belong to us'."

When she returned to the family home that day, she told how one of Akhtar's younger brothers said she would be sent back to Pakistan.

His sister taunted that she would be sent to a mental asylum and given electric shocks.

Akhtar and his mother were both freed on conditional bail, after the judge postponed sentencing for pre-sentence reports to be prepared.

Sania Bibi, who was finally expelled from the house early in 2007 and now lives with relatives, was not at the court to hear the verdicts.

After the verdict, Mr Heimler said: "As a result of her treatment Sania Bibi was diagnosed as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and I would anticipate that compensation would be sought."

He added that the Crown would apply for £6,000 costs to be paid between the guilty parties.


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