Family 'plotted to kill daughter' who defied them'

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The Independent Online
A BRADFORD Asian family employed private detectives, bounty hunters and hit men to seek out and kill their "once much-loved" daughter and her husband because she refused to marry the man of her parents' choice, a Labour backbencher said yesterday.

Ann Cryer, the MP for Keighley, told a silent Commons during a short debate on women's rights of Jack and Zena Briggs who had committed the "unforgivable crime of falling in love and ultimately marrying".

"Zena's fate had been sealed virtually from birth when her parents promised her to a first cousin in Pakistan, a young man she despised, regarded as arrogant, with no English, who treated women as beneath contempt.

"Six years ago, when Jack and Zena decided to run away and marry they knew there would be problems but hoped that eventually her family would accept Jack as his family accepted Zena.

"To this day a death sentence is hanging over them and through the years this otherwise decent Bradford Asian family have employed private detectives, bounty hunters and hit men to seek out their once much-loved daughter for the purpose of killing her and her husband.

"They even stooped to punish them by terrifying Jack's elderly mother who was dying from cancer."

The Briggs couple did not know, every time the phone rang, whether they were going to be lured to their deaths, she said.

"Many Muslims have assured me that it is un-Islamic to use any form of coercion in the arrangement of a marriage.

"Therefore the question I have asked myself is, why are families prepared to go to these lengths to force their daughters into such unsuitable marriages?

"The answer often given is that it is their culture and that outsiders such as myself should not interfere in what are essentially community and family matters. I cannot accept this view."

Condemning decisions by Muslim families to circumcise their daughters, Bowen Wells, chairman of the international development select committee and Tory MP for Hertford, confirmed that Harley Street had been mentioned as "being a place where this has been carried out".

He added: "We in this country must be vigilant in stamping out these procedures. It is against the law of this country."