A 25-year-old Romanian man of Romany gypsy background was jailed in the UK for raping his pregnant wife who is only 12 years old.
He illegally married the girl in Romania before settling in Essex.
The man will spend six years in jail after admitting to having sex with a child under the age of 13, reports Daily Mail.
The girl is believed to have returned to Romania. She is pregnant, being just weeks away from giving birth.
The police uncovered their illegal marriage in April this year when they stopped the Romanian man’s car at a car wash in Epping. The man and the 12-year-old girl were in the car, together with two other children. Searches at their home revealed a small room with a double bed the Romanian man and the girl shared.
Laura Kenyon, defending the man, told the court: “There is no grooming, exploitation, force or coercion in this case. This was consent within a marriage, albeit an unlawful marriage.”
‘This is a widespread practice, an ancient custom that is still used today. The marriage of a young girl and older man is not an extraordinary event in their culture.”
In Romania, the age of consent and age of lawful marriage is 16 years.
Recent Save the Children Romania data showed that more than 9,000 girls in Romania become mothers before turning 19, and one in 15 girls gets married at a young age (15-19 years). Compared to other countries in the world, Romania registers a worrying situation in two indicators related to girls’ protection. A total of 6.7% of the young girls aged 15 to 19 get married, and 34 girls out of 1,000 become mothers.
Irina Marica, [email protected]