Man sentenced in first case of husband holding his wife in servitude

01/04/2016

Safraz Ahmed, 34, was sentenced today at Woolwich Crown Court to two years imprisonment for holding a person in servitude contrary to Section 71 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 and assault occasioning actual bodily harm. A restraining order was also imposed. This relates to holding his wife in servitude from 17 December 2012 to 18 August 2014.

It is believed to be the first case in England and Wales where a husband has been convicted of this charge relating to his wife.

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.

"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.

"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."

Background

Ahmed and the victim were involved in an arranged marriage which they both agreed to and welcomed. They were married in Pakistan in 2006 where the victim remained to complete her studies before joining her husband in the UK in 2012. Upon arrival in England the victim soon realised that she would not be part of the loving family she had expected, instead she was kept in servitude. Her freedom was completely taken away and she was subjected to physical and psychological abuse.

As tradition dictates the victim came to the country with wedding jewellery, this was taken from her and not returned despite repeated requests. This was a way of exploiting and controlling her, by depriving her of her personal belongings she became completely financially dependent on her husband. She was responsible for keeping the house clean and doing all the chores that her husband demanded. She was not allowed out unaccompanied and when she was alone at home she was rung every ten minutes to make sure the phone was not engaged. She describes the defendant's behaviour towards her as "physical and mental torture".