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Forced marriage

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©Thinkstock - Forced marriage
When Nabillah's parents found out she had a boyfriend, which was forbidden under their strict rules, she was beaten up by her brother and kept prisoner in her own home. 

Isolated from her concerned friends and trapped in the house, her parents did nothing to stop the abuse. She was only hours away from being bundled onto a plane to India to marry her cousin until the police stepped in. 

Whereas having a boyfriend may not be so shocking for most 23 year olds in the UK, Nabillah's family were angry and disappointed that she had brought shame on the family.

This is the frightening and shocking reality for thousands of young women in the UK today.

Torn between family honour and western freedoms, hundreds of second-generation South Asian women find themselves in dangerous situations when things turn nasty between their parents and siblings.
And it does not just affect young women considered to be at a ‘marriageable age’, victims of forced marriage can be as young as 10 years old.

And the horror goes beyond being literally forced into marriage with someone they may have never met - physical and sexual violence, imprisonment and kidnap are all prevalent in these cases.
Women often have no choice but to leave the familial home and go to a refuge for their own safety. From the moment they leave, they are considered dead in the eyes of the family and are often never spoken to again.

Police intervention
And leaving is exactly what Nabillah had to do. In her case, it was worried friend Kiran who alerted the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) when he was unable to contact her.

The FMU then asked local police to visit the family home. The family were immediately suspicious and aggressive, but let the officer speak with Nabillah when he used a cover story that her credit card had been fraudulently obtained.

Nabillah said her parents had found out that she had a boyfriend, and she had to travel to India immediately to marry a cousin. The officer stayed with her while she packed her bags and they left the house together. Nabillah went to a women’s refuge and has not spoken to her family since.

Becky Middleton


Women in Focus Editor
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