A mother locked up her three daughters-in-law and treated them as slaves for more than a decade, a court heard yesterday.
Naseebah Bibi, 62, is said to have ruled the women by fear - beating and slapping them if they disobeyed her, threatening to break their legs and denying them food.
Their ordeal only came to light when one wife managed to break free and ran into the street to alert a neighbour.
The court was told that Tazeem Akhtar, Nagina Akhtar and Nisbah Akhtar had arrived in Britain over several years after arranged marriages to Bibi's sons Nahim, Fahim and Nadeem in Pakistan.
Instead of living with their husbands and raising families, the women were put to work by their mother-in-law cooking and cleaning and using an industrial sewing machine.
Bibi, a mother of six, denies three charges of false imprisonment of the three women between 1993 and 2006.
Her son Nadeem, 31, denies falsely imprisoning his wife Nisbah between 2005 and 2007 and one count of actual bodily harm.
Philip Boyd, prosecuting, said: 'Mrs Bibi was clearly exploiting each of these women. They were treated like children, slaves or dogs by a regime of threats of force or actual force.
'These young women had been rejected by their husbands of their arranged marriages, they couldn't speak English, they couldn't go back to Pakistan, they were in limbo and so they were exploited by the defendant for her own purposes.'
Preston Crown Court heard that the first wife was Nagina Akhtar who had married her husband, Fahim in 1993.
The couple had three children, but she spent her days cleaning and making clothing on a sewing machine.
Mr Boyd said: 'As soon as she came to this country, she was ordered by Mrs Bibi to spend the day sewing on an industrial sewing machine.
'She sewed all day, every day. She sewed for money, but she didn't see any of the money.'
When she once left the small terraced house in Blackburn, Bibi warned her: 'How dare you leave the house. If you do it again I will break your legs.'
Mr Boyd told the court that Nagina was forced to live under these conditions for more than 13 years.
Her nightmare ended in October 2006, when her son Umar, three, told nursery staff that he had seen his grandmother beating his mother. Nagina was taken to a refuge by domestic violence workers and her children were taken into care.
The second wife was Tazeem Akhtar, who married Nahim in Pakistan and came to Britain after her visa was processed in 2001.
Mr Boyd said: 'She came expecting to live and have children with her husband, something she had dreamed of for some years. Her dream was doomed.
'She did not know that Nahim already had a partner, a white lady, and had two children. He had effectively no intention of living as her husband. He effectively had his own life and she only discovered that on the first day she arrived.'
She was also put to work by her mother-in-law in a 'gruelling' dawn to midnight routine that left her shattered.
Mr Boyd said: 'She was simply treated like a slave. She would get up 6am and was ordered to do all the house work, to clean the floors and windows and she even had to do the washing in cold water by hand, even though there was an electric washing machine.
'She did try to use the washing once but she was beaten by Mrs Bibi. She would be beaten by being slapped in the face, hit with a slipper on the arms and legs and had her hair pulled.'
She was allowed to eat only when she was given permission.
Her ordeal ended after 18 months in 2003 when Bibi flew her back to Pakistan and abandoned her there. Giving evidence via a videolink in Islamabad, Tazeem said: 'In England my life was not happy. I was very sad. I face a lot of grief and it was very distressing for me.'
Wiping away tears, she said that if she disobeyed Bibi would 'hit her with a brush across the head'.
She said: 'I was frightened and scared. She never let me out. I had to work, work, work.'
The third wife was Nisbah Akhtar - sister of Tazeem - who married Nadeem in Pakistan and arrived in England in December 2005.
'When she arrived she had the expectation of being husband and wife and she would have a rosy future,' said Mr Boyd. 'But on her arrival she was shunned by her husband and the same pattern of abuse began.
The court was told that on October 28, 2007, an argument broke out between Bibi and Nisbah which resulted in Nisbah's husband Nadeem punching her in the face and locking her in a bedroom.
She pretended she needed the toilet and then managed to escape, running out of the front door into the street. A neighbour alerted police, and Bibi and Nadeem were questioned.
The trial continues.
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