First husband convicted of keeping his wife in domestic slavery by beating and threatening to kill her and forcing her to do chores for 19 hours a day is jailed for two years1,255 views
A man who forced his wife to carry out household chores and regularly beat and threatened to kill her has been jailed for two years.
Victim Sumara Iram was imprisoned, beaten and forced to carry out chores from 5am until midnight each day, leading her to try to take her own life by taking an overdose of painkillers.
Safraz Ahmed, 34, of Elliscombe Road, Charlton, has admitted to holding a person in domestic servitude and assault causing actual bodily harm.
The case is believed to be the first British conviction for domestic servitude involving man and wife, according to police.
Cruel: Safraz Ahmed made Pakistani wife Sumara Iram carry out endless chores at his London home
Trapped: Ahmed brought his bride over from her home country to the UK following an arranged marriage
The abuse began after British-born Ahmed brought his bride over from Pakistan to the UK in December 2012 – having agreed to an arranged marriage in the country in 2006.
The first attack followed the couple’s second official wedding ceremony in February 2013, when Ahmed reacted angrily at being asked to consummate their marriage, prosecutor Caroline Haughey told Woolwich Crown Court.
‘He slapped her across the face and called her a w****, a b**** and a shameless woman,’ she said.
‘The marriage was not consummated. In his words, he told her he had married her so she could look after his mother and his house.’
In another attack, Ahmed punched Ms Iram in the face, leaving her requiring surgery, while in separate assaults he covered her face with a cushion and threw tins of cat food at her head.
The court heard he told her that if she spoke out he would ‘kill her’.
On one occassion, a next door neighbour called police to the home after seeing her ‘standing in the street in clothing inappropriate for the time of year’, Miss Haughey said.
‘She was dragged back in the house by her hair,’ she continued.
‘She had a black eye resulting from damage to her nose. The doctors said it was more serious than a fracture and she required surgery.’
As he dragged her bleeding back into the house a neighbour, model Hannah Ridgeway, heard him say, ‘I’m going to kill you. I’m going to f*****g kill you’.
Prison: Mechanic Ahmed, pictured, now faces jail after being convicted of conspiracy to hold a person in domestic servitude
Slave: Ms Iram, who could not speak English, left, was forced to act as their skivvy and was told it was too dangerous for her to go out, saying black and white men would rape, kidnap or murder her
After she took the overdose, Mr Ahmed’s family did not take her to hospital but told her to be sick before taking her to a wedding.
She was 18 when she wed Ahmed, a British Pakistani who ran his own car garage, in an arranged marriage in 2006 near Gujrat in Punjab.
‘BULLIED AND CONTROLLED': JUDGE HERIR’S FULL SENTENCING STATEMENT
‘Between the period your wife arrived in the UK and the time there was a further ceremony and the marriage should have been consummated you had a change of heart about Ms Iram, possibly because of your differing levels of education and differing backgrounds.
‘A situation developed where she was treated as a servant by you and your family.
‘Bullied and controlled by you, she was given little money and she was expected to cook, clean, wash, iron and garden for you and your mother as if she was a skivvy rather than your wife.
‘She described your behaviour to her as physical and mental torture and in my judgement she was right.
‘She was a confident, well-educated and well-adjusted woman when she came from Pakistan to live in the UK as a married woman, in her one words she was a fun-loving, athletic, free thinking and confident girl.
‘This was a marriage that went wrong, terribly wrong, but you didn’t do it for financial gain and on at least one occasion you tried to apologise for your violence against her.
‘To an extent you felt trapped in your marriage that was a mis-match and it caused you to lash out due to frustration.
‘But if you were frustrated the thing to do was to seek a dissolution of the marriage, not to resort to making your wife a skivvy and abusing her.
‘I cannot accept cultural differences for the offending – you were born in the UK, you are British and it seems that Ms Iram’s expectation of the marriage was much higher than yours.’
Ahmed returned to the UK but she remained in Pakistan to complete her master’s degree in Islamic studies before coming to Britain on a spouse’s visa in 2012.
Ms Iram, now 29, lived with Ahmed and her mother in their four-bedroom home where they were frequently visited by his large family.
Ms Iram, who could not speak English, was forced to act as their skivvy and was told it was too dangerous for her to go out, saying black and white men would rape, kidnap or murder her.
The 28-year-old victim raised the alarm herself by calling 999 in August 2014.
Ms Iram told police that she had effectively been kept as a domestic servant or slave at a house in Elliscombe Road, Charlton where Ahmed lived with other members of his family, including his mother.
She was required to cook, clean, wash, iron and look after other people’s children, and if this work was not done to his standard, she was regularly beaten.
Ms Haughey said the victim, who was in court for the hearing, was not allowed to leave the house alone and was not financially supported, other than being given £10 per month to top up her phone.
She lived a ‘life of violence, intimidation and misery’ and what was expected of her was ‘beyond that of a normal marital relationship’.
But Cathy Ryan, defending, said Ahmed had gone into the marriage in ‘good faith’ before becoming ‘frustrated’, having been pressured by his family to marry someone from their native village.
‘Mr Ahmed was frustrated by the situation in which he found himself and Ms Iram bore the brunt of that frustration,’ she said.
The victim had been from a liberal, well-off family in Pakistan and had a masters degree in Islamic Studies.
Ms Ryan added: ‘Her expectations were that she would have a happy and contented life with her husband and that she would be loved. To many it may seem her expectations were unrealistic.’
Moving to the UK had been a ‘huge culture shock’ to Ms Iram, she said.
‘She found herself the wife of a mechanic from Charlton. She was expected to be his wife and look after her mother-in-law.’
After Ahmed was arrested in February 2014, when neighbours saw him drag his wife back into the house by her hair, he apologised to her and also later phoned her brothers to say sorry, the court heard.
Punishment: Ahmed was handed concurrent sentences of eight months for ABH and two years for forcing his wife into domestic servitude
Witness: Neighbour Hannah Ridgeway (pictured) said she watched as Ahmed dragged Miss Iram inside by her hair, saying ‘I’m going to kill you. I’m going to f*****g kill you’
The couple separated in September 2014 and the divorce was formalised earlier this year.
Ahmed was handed concurrent sentences of eight months for ABH and two years for forcing his wife into domestic servitude.
His mother, Zarina, brother, Viseem, and sister-in-law, Deena Patel, were cleared of the same offence after no evidence was offered against them.
After the sentence, Damaris Lakin, CPS London reviewing lawyer, said: ‘After moving to the UK in 2012 to live with her husband it did not take long before the victim’s dream of a loving family life was shattered as she realised that she had been brought to the UK only to be a servant.
‘FIRST BRIT HUSBAND CONVICTED OF DOMESTIC SERVITUDE’ – POLICE
Ahmed, of Elliscombe Road, was charged under the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 because the offences took place before the new law was introduced in 2015.
The Modern Slavery Bill was introduced last year and consolidates previous offences relating to trafficking and slavery, bringing harsher punishments with it.
A review by the Home Secretary found that around 13,000 people in the UK were living in slave-like conditions.
Despite the high figures, police believe today’s conviction to be a first of its kind involving a husband and a wife.
After the sentence, Damaris Lakin, CPS London reviewing lawyer, said: ‘This is a ground-breaking case which demonstrates how far we have come in tackling modern-day slavery.
‘We believe this is the first conviction in England and Wales of a husband for holding his wife in servitude.’
DS Singh added: ‘I salute her for persevering in an 18-month investigation that was particularly testing as no previous case of domestic servitude had been tried between husband and wife.
‘It’s therefore the first case of domestic servitude between husband and wife.’
‘She was treated with complete contempt by the defendant who responded to her requests for affection with physical assaults and verbal abuse.
‘She was isolated from the world, allowed only very restricted contact with her family and was not allowed to leave the house unaccompanied.
‘I would like to thank the victim in this case for her bravery in reporting the abuse and supporting the prosecution.
‘The CPS is committed to working with the police and other partner agencies to bring the perpetrators of modern day slavery to justice and support victims to help them through the prosecution process and beyond in the hope that they can rebuild their lives.’
The officer who oversaw the 18-month investigation hailed it as a ‘landmark case’ and added that he hopes other wives suffering in servitude will now come forward.
Detective Sergeant Pal Singh also praised the victim for assisting police to convict her ex-husband Safraz Ahmed of domestic servitude.
But he admitted the police could have rescued her sooner after witnesses saw her being dragged by the hair by her husband.
But he conceded that the Met Police could have ended her suffering sooner if they took action when neighbour’s saw Ahmed drag his wife by the hair in a violent row.
Police spoke to the victim but she withdrew her complaint and no further action was taken until she took an overdose six months later.
DS Singh said: ‘There are lessons that the police can learn to improve their procedures, I can say with the benefit of hindsight.
‘This case could have perhaps been better placed for the victim if it had started in February 2014 when she first came to police attention as opposed to the following six months she had to endure the physical and mental abuse that you have heard about in court.’
But, after praising her bravery, he hoped that this will encourage more people in the same situation to come forward.
He said: ‘I hope that this landmark case will give a rising confidence to victims who are suffering or people who know those who are suffering to come forward.
‘Because we can hope, as the judge has said today, the courts do not accept cultural differences for offending, which neither should the police.’
News Source Daily Mail