West London family who subjected one of their own to relentless torment and abuse jailed
A husband and four of his family members have been sentenced to 18 years of imprisonment after subjecting his wife to forced slavery, honour-based violence and coercive behaviour between October 2017 and April 2019 at their shared family home in west London.
After entering an arranged marriage in Pakistan, Mohammed-Shuaib Arshid, 28, moved to the UK with his new wife, who was also his cousin, in a house shared with his father, Arshid Sadiq, 54, his mother, Nabila Shaheen, 56, his brother, Aqeel Arshid, 32, and his sister Zaib Arshid, 27.
Whilst living in the family home, the Arshid’s wife was regularly subjected to controlling and coercive behaviour. This included not being allowed to use her mobile phone without permission, leave the house on her own or have access to her personal identity documents. She was further denied the opportunity to attend college. The family also denied her access to any money, and she was reduced to begging her husband to buy basic toiletries.
Judge Martin Edmunds said the crimes emerged from a ‘flawed marriage’ as Arshid led a double life as a gay man. During the investigation, police found that he had messaged four male contacts showing “close emotional and sexual attachments, regrets at his marriage, and the concerns of at least one of his contacts that he would be a homewrecker”.
The victim was held as a ‘house slave’ and forced to cook and clean throughout the day before being allowed to go to bed.
During this period, the victim was regularly mentally and physically abused by all five members of the family, where they would ruthlessly beat and bully her, causing long-term physical and psychological harm. Abuse included threats to kill the victim and forcing the victim to drink engine oil.
Prosecuting Miranda Moore said, “There was clear information [the victim] was coming to terms with the fact she would not be found. She’s still scared to go back there. She had recurring nightmares for years that she would be found and killed.
“The defendants continue to say [the victim] has made all of this up and they continue to say that. They say it is all lies to the community in the UK and the community in Pakistan.”
“It was the worst time of my life. I’m still upset this happened because they are family and they will always be my family,” the victim said in a victim impact statement. Moore also said the victim was still upset that her jewellery was never returned and the strain on her relationship with her mum in Pakistan as a result of the marriage.
Judge Edmunds said, “For the whole of 2018 and until her escape on April 24 2019 when, left briefly alone, she ran into the streets and sought the assistance of the first person she met, she was kept by the family, not as a cherished daughter in law as they claimed, but as an outsider, one to do their bidding and carry the bulk of the household chores, abused, criticised, belittled, and subjected to violence by each one of you.”
Whilst on bail for these offenses, Arshid committed a separate offence of false imprisonment targeted towards another member of the public and was sentenced to eight years in prison. The defendants all entered Not Guilty pleas but were convicted unanimously by the jury.
Members of the family were sentenced at Isleworth Crown Court on 11 July, each for controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship and holding a person in slavery or servitude. All five family members were also made subject to an indefinite restraining order, preventing any further contact with the victim. They were all also deprived of their mobile phones.
Mohammed-Shuaib Arshid was sentenced to three years imprisonment, to run consecutively to the 8 year custodial sentence imposed for falsely imprisoning a separate victim. Arshid Sadiq was sentenced to seven years three months imprisonment. Nabila Shaheen was sentenced to four years and three months imprisonment. Aqeel Arshid was sentenced to 21 months suspended 18 months. Zaib Arshid was sentenced to 21 months suspended 18 months.
Paul Jenkins, a Senior District Crown Prosecutor for the CPS said, “The victim believed that they were moving into a safe family home with a loving husband, but the subsequent actions of Mohammed Shuaib Arshid, Arshid Sadiq, Nabila Shaheen, Aqeel Arshid and Zaib Arshid proved that this was not the case.
“The victim was subject to regular abuse whilst under their care, resulting in serious physical and psychological harm. This case demonstrates the willingness of the CPS to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice and our commitment to protect those who have been subject to controlling or coercive situations, securing protective orders wherever possible.”
A CPS spokesperson said, “Being the victim of violence or sexual assault is undoubtedly a harrowing experience – but when this abuse is ‘honour-based’, the challenges can often feel impossible to overcome.
“If someone is seen to have dishonoured or brought shame on a family or community, they can be ‘punished’ through threatening behaviour, rape, kidnap, false imprisonment, female genital mutilation, forced marriage and even murder – also known as honour killings.
“Honour-based abuse cases are some of the most complex the Crown Prosecution Service deals with. We know much of this abuse takes place in familial settings and tight-knit communities, often making it incredibly difficult for victims to come forward to report.
“We want to support victims of this unacceptable violence; both honour-based abuse and forced marriage are illegal, and where our legal test is met, we will not hesitate to prosecute.
“We can protect potential victims through anonymity, forced marriage protection orders and extra-territorial jurisdiction over offences committed abroad.
“Whether you are a victim, or suspect you know someone who is, we would encourage you to come forward and report it.
“Victims of this devastating crime deserve justice and you could help other potential victims.”