Judge grants annulment to woman forced into marriage to keep job in BC

Jan 23 2019, 6:15 pm

A forced marriage between a woman in BC and a relative of her boss has now been annulled by a BC Supreme Court judge in New Westminster.

In his ruling, Justice Gordon Weatherill outlined his reasons for the decision.

The case began on August 1 of last year, when the claimant, Pardeep Kaur began working full-time as a hairdresser with a company called “BPL.” The company is owned and operated by a man identified as B.S.S.

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Shortly after her employment began, B.S.S. suggested to Kaur that she marry a relative of his who was residing in India and who he subsequently sponsored to immigrate to Canada as a permanent resident.

B.S.S. told Kaur that her employment with the company would be secure only if she accepted this suggestion, a decision that caused Kaur stress, wrote Weatherill.

After asking for one day to mull over the suggestion, Kaur agreed to marry the respondent under duress, “as she did not want to lose her job.”

A civil ceremony took place on August 20, 2018, and immediately after the ceremony, Kaur went home alone. “She has not seen the respondent since,” wrote Weatherill. “The marriage was not consummated.”

Weatherill wrote that the parties involved in the case “belong to the Sikh religion and are Punjabi by ethnicity. According to the Sikh religion, in addition to a civil marriage ceremony, it is essential that there be a religious ceremony in front of the holy book, Shri Guru Granth Sahib, prior to cohabitation and/or consummation of the marriage.”

In this case, however, “no such religious ceremony took place.”

Shortly after the ceremony, Kaur was fired from her job. “She believes she was fired because she did not go through with the religious ceremony,” wrote Weatherill. “The evidence before me is overwhelming that the civil marriage ceremony… was a sham and was entered into solely for immigration purposes.”

Weatherill wrote he believed Kaur’s claim that she “did not enter into the agreement to participate in this sham of her own free will, but did so because of the threat of losing her job.”

As such, he concluded, “the claimant’s application for an order that her marriage to the respondent is a nullity is granted.”

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