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Family who drugged and kidnapped woman in Accrington jailed
A WOMAN who was drugged and kidnapped by her family for refusing to enter an arranged marriage has been praised for her courage by a judge.
Naila Afsar told police she spoke out against her mother, brother and brother-in-law because ‘I don’t want this to happen to anyone else’.
Yesterday, the 23-year-old’s mother Shamin Akhtar, 58, was sentenced to four years in prison, her brother Shamrez Khan, 34, was jailed for five years and her brother-in-law Zahid Mahmood, 36, was given three years.
As they were sentenced judge Simon Newell praised Mrs Afsar and said women’s rights needed to be ‘ferociously protected by the courts’.
Judge Newell said he had observed the victim giving evidence and he formed the view she was an intelligent, educated and articulate young woman.
He said: “It’s also clear that she is independent, determined and resourceful.
“She epitomises a modern young asian woman making her life as a citizen of this country.
“Adult educated and independent children have a right to self determination and freedom of choice. These rights have been hard won over many years, particularly in the case of women and these rights are to be ferociously protected by the courts.”
Mrs Afsar is now urging other women who find themselves victims of honour based violence to contact police.
Burnley crown Court heard mother-of-eight Akhtar, of Kirkwall Drive, Bradford took the drastic action to kidnap her youngest daughter after she refused to honour a pact she had made with her sister, for their children to marry.
After breaking off the engagement to her first cousin Amraiz Khan in July 2009, Mrs Afsar ran away to Newcastle fearing for her life and to secretively marry the man of her choice.
The court heard that it was there she and her new husband Afsar Saddiq were approached by the family.
Believing she was welcomed back to the family she travelled to her brother-in-law’s home in Empress Street, Accrington where she was drugged.
Unknown to the victim, her mother, her brother and brother-in-law travelled back up to Newcastle, confronted Mr Saddiq and collected her belongings, including her passport.
Police discovered her in a car at Rising Bridge when she was being moved to her mother’s home in Bradford.
Standing in the dock, the trio showed little emotion. Judge Simon Newell told them it was clear Akhtar and Khan, of Moor Avenue, Great Horton, Bradford were prime movers in the case.
Sentencing Akhtar, Judge Newell said: “Your role was to care for her, support her and look after her best interests. Instead you chose to assault, drug and abuse her in the apparent interest of family honour and reputation so that you personally would not lose face.”
DI Mark Vaughton said: “This has been a very difficult and traumatic experience for the victim who was forced into hiding to escape abuse from members of her own family.“She was treated in the most dreadful way by the people who were supposed to protect and care for her. She has shown a great deal of courage in coming forward and we will continue to offer her support for as long as she needs it.”
DI Vaughton continued to urge victims to come forward and contact the police in confidence.
He added: “I hope this case highlights the help and support that is available for victims and I urge anyone who is suffering in similar circumstances to come forward and contact the police.
“We will not tolerate any acts of honour based abuse in our communities and we work very closely with professionals such as healthcare staff, the Lancashire Domestic Abuse Partnership, Social Services and teachers to ensure victims of forced marriage receive the best possible help and support.
“We understand the complex cultural issues around victims coming forward but as this case demonstrates we are committed to investigating any reports of this nature thoroughly and will do everything within our powers to bring offenders before the courts.”
Anyone with information on honour based crime should contact police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.