A devout Muslim woman who met her husband through an arranged marriage had to kneel before her mother-in-law and even kiss her feet, a judge at the Family Court has revealed. Details of the bizarre case came to light when the court allowed the publication of the judge's rulings, though the identities of those concerned have not been released.
The court heard how the woman and her husband, both described as being of Pakistani origin and in their late 30s, had been married for several years and lived in the UK. She was, said Mr Justice Newton, an "entirely traditional Islamic wife [who] served her husband and his family in their home in the north west with as much obedience and loyalty as she could muster".
However, the woman was then summoned to live with her husband's family in Pakistan and was so concerned she contacted police. Two months later she went with her husband's family to Pakistan with one of her two children, having been "forcibly separated" from the other. Justice Newton said in Pakistan the victim was "made to participate in what can only be called a degrading experience, which was that she should be submissive and obedient to her mother-in-law, including bending down in front of her and even, she says, kissing her mother-in-law's feet".
The woman's husband, the judge noted, was an "essentially weak and shallow", and "spoilt" man who "does as he is told by his mother" (Telegraph). As for the mother-in-law, "this witness was amongst the toughest, most focused, manipulative and callous that I have ever heard".
Justice Newton ruled the woman should now have the right to take care of both her children in the UK away from the paternal family, none of whom would have the right to have contact with the children apart from the woman's husband. The case will be reviewed in the Family Division of the High Court in December.
Arranged marriages remain popular among Muslim communities in the UK, but there have been cases of women being abducted, raped and murdered. Currently police are investigating the alleged murder of Samia Shahid from Bradford who died on a trip to Pakistan in 2016. Her family had claimed she died of a heart attack but she had actually been strangled. Shahid's former husband has since confessed to the killing.