Husbands in forced marriages face rape charges

Husbands involved in forced marriages could face prosecution for rape under tough new laws being planned by leading Scottish Asians. As many as 300 young women are believed to be coerced into marriage against their will annually in Scotland, with violence and even murder being the result in a small number of cases. England is introducing new civil laws to ban the practice south of the border, but heads of the Islamic community in Scotland are pushing for new criminal sanctions. As well as prosecuting husbands for rape, relatives involved in forced marriages could find themselves charged with aiding and abetting a crime. Among those leading the campaign is Bashir Ahmad, a Nationalist MSP in Glasgow, who became aware of the extent of forced marriage while a councillor in the city. He said: “If forced marriages were a criminal offence it would be a real deterrent and I will be bringing forward a Private Members Bill on this. Making it a civil offence might be a good first step but it may not go far enough.”

New play canvasses women’s sexual issues

A controversial play looking addressing topics of sexuality including rape, circumcision, and homosexuality, has opened in Brussels. The play, entitled ‘The Veiled Monologues,’ was written by Dutch writer Adelheid Roosen and inspired by the American play, The Vagina Monologues. The Veiled Monologues draws on subjects of female sexuality and was developed from interviews with over 70 Muslim women in Holland, of various ethnic and cultural origins. The play is being performed in French for the first time in Brussels at the Teatre de Poche until February 9th, 2008.

Girl’s rape lie destroyed taxi driver’s life

Aftab Ahmed, 44, of Allerton, Bradford, lost his home, livelihood, reputation and found his family relationships and marriage under strain in the 14 months it took for the lies of his 17-year-old accuser to be exposed in court. Mr Ahmed, who has a degree in political science and once worked as a police officer in Kashmir, told how a group of girls negotiated a _13 fare to take the drunken girl home to Baildon, north of the city. He gave her sister his registration and name before driving off. The trip, which should have taken 15 minutes, took three quarters of an hour because she vomited over the seats six times and Mr Ahmed was forced to stop repeatedly. Unable to find her home address, he had to knock on doors and ask for directions. At one stage, he stopped a bus to ask the driver. He also phoned the girl’s sister to tell her that she was in a poor state of health, that he was worried about leaving her at home alone and said that he would leave her in the care of neighbours. Once home, the girl called the police. The court was told that the girl had initially made the allegation because she had felt a pain in her groin area and had assumed that she had been raped. As soon as she sobered up, she realised her mistake but continued with the pretence. Mr Wilcock said: These allegations have had a profound effect on Mr Ahmed and his family. He is no longer prepared to work as a taxi driver in the evenings for fear of other allegations against him. His wife is taking tablets for depression and it has affected his position within the community. Mr. Ahmed’s life has been virtually destroyed by the allegations. The accusations have destroyed my family. It has impacted on myself, my wife and my children. To be accused of rape is the most serious crime in my religion of Islam. It is seen as worse than murder, because we are told to honour women and that they are sacrosanct. The girl was sentenced to four months in jail.