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  • 'Forced marriage' daughter gets protection
  • By From Correspondents In London
  • Herald Sun
  • 20/12/2008 Make a Comment
  • Contributed by: The Rooster ( 264 articles in 2008 )
A LONDON court has ruled in favour of a Bangladeshi doctor held captive in Dhaka by her parents seeking an enforced marriage, saying she could not be removed from Britain without her consent.

Humayra Abedin, 32, returned to Britain this week after a Bangladeshi court ruled on Sunday that her parents were holding her against her will and she should be freed.

The High Court in London issued an order on Friday while she was in captivity on December 5 under newly-introduced legislation which lets British courts prevent forced marriages for residents of Britain.

"I shall grant further orders to protect Dr Abedin and prevent her being
removed from this country again without her consent," said judge Paul Coleridge.

Ms Humayra lives in Britain but travelled to Bangladesh on August 3 after she was told by family members her mother was seriously ill.

She had planned to return soon after but told a female cousin her family was holding her captive and planned to force her to marry a stranger.

Ms Humayra - an only child - reportedly has a Hindu boyfriend in London, which angered her Muslim family. She said after her release she hoped to move on with her life.

Ms Humayra welcomed the ruling, saying: "I'm very happy to be back, but I'd like to get back to my life. I'm looking forward to starting my job."

Her solicitor, Anne-Marie Hutchinson, said the ruling should give hope to others in similar situations.

"The profile it has received means that other people will feel that they can come forward and seek the relief that, as Mr Justice Coleridge said, they're entitled to.

"He's emphasised what's been said before, that forced marriage is a breach of human rights, and where it happens this court will deal with it if cases come before it."

According to a press statement released by the court, when Ms Humayra arrived at her family's home in Dhaka, she was "manhandled into the property by a number of people and immediately locked in a room".

Throughout her time there, she was "always monitored by four or five guards and was not free to leave the property" while her passport, plane tickets and other documents were taken from her.

Against her will, she was injected with "what she believed to be mood stabilisers and anti-psychotic drugs" at a hospital or clinic.

She "entered into a marriage ceremony against her will and under duress" on November 14. Arranged marriages in conservative Muslim Bangladesh are common.

Last month, the British government introduced the Forced Marriage Act, a law allowing courts to stop forced marriages and provide protection to British nationals who have been married against their will.

Lawyers in Britain had filed a case in London on Humayra's behalf under the new law, on the basis she was a resident of that country. Humayra is, however, not a British national.

She is on a skilled migrant visa in Britain, which has three years validity remaining, she told AFP.

The British High Commission in Dhaka said it assisted in 56 forced marriage cases between April 2007 and March 2008.


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