In-laws sued over ‘abusive’ marriage


The founder of Freedom charity, Aneeta Prem, told Eastern Eye, “You’ve got pre­dominantly young girls locked down with their families, particularly dads, who may normally be at work and don’t have much to do with their daughters.
The founder of Freedom charity, Aneeta Prem, told Eastern Eye, “You’ve got pre­dominantly young girls locked down with their families, particularly dads, who may normally be at work and don’t have much to do with their daughters.

by NADEEM BADSHAH

A WOMAN sued her former in-laws for abuse suffered during her marriage, the first known case involving a British Asian victim to emerge since laws tackling controlling behaviour were unveiled.

The unnamed victim launched a legal case against her former husband and former in-laws for compensation, presenting a claim for harassment and personal injury.

The woman, from the West Midlands, also made a claim for her jewellery, money and personal possessions to be returned due to the “emotional and psychological” abuse she faced during the six-month marriage.

According to her lawyer, Alia Ali, she was subjected to a “daily oppressive regime of housework and chores”, verbal abuse and banned from leaving the house which led to her suffering depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The woman was given an out of court settlement under laws introduced in 2015 making coercive control a criminal offence which includes emotional and psychological abuse.

Ali, a partner at law firm Merali Beedle, told Eastern Eye: “She was expected to adhere to strict rules, some of these included dietary requirements, curfews, limited contact with close family and friends.

“She was often instructed to cook and clean on a daily basis, alongside a fulltime job. This was not only strenuous, but it also had a direct impact on her health both physically and mentally.

“Prior to her marriage to her former husband, they spent a few weeks getting to know each other. She was often reassured that he came from an open minded, educated family, with similar goals and aspirations to herself.

“They seemed compatible for one another and she felt confident that they were a good match. Having lived with her husband and in-laws, it soon appeared this was not the case.”

Ali added: “She was subjected to verbal abuse, name-calling, in-laws eavesdropping on her conversations, questions about her whereabouts and also been made to disclose personal details about her life.

“She was not allowed to go out with her husband and was told to be a “traditional daughter in law who served her in laws”.

“She received strict instructions to fall pregnant by a set date.

“She was later abandoned by her inlaws and husband at her father’s doorstep in the early hours of the morning and then decided to peruse a legal claim of harassment for wrongful retention of property and for the emotional abuse.”

In 2006, Gina Singh, from Nottingham, received £35,000 in compensation after suing her mother-in-law Dalbir Kaur Bhakar for harassment in a civil claim.

The law changed four years ago to make coercive control a criminal offence.

Ali said some south Asian women are suffering in silence and are unaware the abuse they are enduring is illegal.

She said: “This is a problem in our communities as not enough women speak out and many are not aware that there is recourse within our existing legal system.

“Currently I have one client that has issued proceedings recently. Another one is contemplating bringing a claim.

Ali added: “This type of abuse is very prevalent in south Asian and Indian cultures. It happens but is not spoken about and is not exposed.

“There is of course the stigma of raising this as an issue which is one of the reasons that people who are experiencing this type of abuse are afraid to speak out.

“They may be victims of ‘gaslighting’ which is where a person is manipulated psychologically to such an extent that they begin to doubt their own sanity.

”The issue here is more concerning as the victim who is experiencing this abuse
may not be able to recognise it.”