Spain: Mother sentenced to 17 years for forced marriage

Spain: Mother sentenced to 17 years for forced marriage

For more on this story in English see here and here.


The court of Cádiz sentenced a Mauritanian woman, Hawa Mint Cheikh, to 17 years in prison for forcing her 14 year old daughter, Selamha Mint Mohamed, to marry a 40 year old man.  The mother was convicted of sexual assault, coercion and threats.  

The husband, Mokhtar Salem, got 13.5 years in prison for sexual assault, while the father, Mohamed Ould Abdallahi , was acquitted of most charges and sentenced for 18 months for threats.

The verdict might still be appealed by both the prosecution and defense.

The girl was born in Puerto Real (Cadiz) in 1992. Her parents, born in Mauritania, had lived in Spain since the 80s.  They have three children, all born in Spain.  Selamha is the oldest.

In 2006 the mother and daughter came to Mauritania on vacation.  A distant cousin of her father's wanted to marry her, and offered a dowry for her.  The father agreed on the phone from Spain.

The wedding was held in Mauritania and the child was then forced to have sexual relations with her new husband.  According to the girl her father threatened her that she would be stoned, and that he would throw the first stone.

The father says that in Mauritania it is common for girls to marry their cousins.

A few weeks later, the girl returned to Puerto Real, and the girl went back to school.  But a year later, in 2007, her husband stopped in Spain after a business trip to Germany.  He then again had relations with her without consent.

According to the girl's testimony, the mother forced her by threats and beating to have sex that night, threats which have been ongoing since her wedding.  The girl says that her parents threatened that they would kill her, burn her or cut her throat.  The next morning she escaped and fled to neighbors who took her to the hospital and then to lodge a complaint.

The same day the Spanish police arrested the parents and husband. The mother and husband were imprisoned.

The court imposed the maximum sentence on the mother, since her actions were crucial for the sexual assault.  The father was not home that night.

The court also ordered the mother and husband to pay 15,000 euro, and put a restraining order on the mother during her prison sentence, and on the father for four years.

The family accuses the court of racism and says that this is a cultural misunderstanding.

Meanwhile the neighbors fear that the younger sister, Aicha, also faces the same fate.

Source: El Pais 1, 2 (Spanish), h/t Bivouac-ID

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