London doctor a forced marriage captive in Bangladesh

December 8th, 2008 - 3:27 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Dec 8 (IANS) In one of the first cases to be heard under the new Forced Marriage Act in Britain, lawyers are desperately trying to save a London-based Bangladeshi doctor from being forcibly married by her parents in Bangladesh.Humayrah Abedin, 33, was lured to Bangladesh on a false pretext August and her lawyers fear she has been held captive ever since, possibly gagged, bound and beaten to force her to submit to a marriage of her parents’ choice.

Anne-Marie Hutchinson, the barrister acting for Humayrah, told The Independent: “There are real concerns for the safety of this young woman. It is understood that she is to be married this weekend.

“The Forced Marriage Act offers protection to all residents of this country. It makes it clear that because she lives here, it is not just a domestic matter for the Bangladesh authorities”, she added.

The British high court has already issued a order under the new Act, which has been served by Humayrah’s lawyers on her parents in Bangladesh. The move came after her parents reportedly chose to ignore orders of a court in Bangladesh to produce their daughter in court.

Humayrah Friday managed to send an email to one of her friends in London which, in part, read: “My life is already ruined. I do not care any more. I just want to end my life as there’s nothing left to live and look forward to. You are one of the best persons. I will always remember you. I wanted to grow old with you. It will never happen now.”

Humayarah, the only child of her parents, trained as a doctor in Bangladesh and joined Leeds University in the UK in 2002. She was a year away from becoming a General Practitioner (GP) and used to work in London hospitals.

It is learnt that she developed friendship with a Bangladeshi Hindu. Her parents disapproved of the relationship and tried to keep her away from him. In June, her mother and one of her uncles visited London and kept Humayrah captive in her own house. The Metropolitan Police began an inquiry into the case.

In August, Humayrah was duped into leaving for Bangladesh after her family sent her a message that her mother was seriously ill. Since her arrival Aug 5, she has been held captive, with her passport and return ticket taken away from her. Interpol, too, has taken up the case.

Humayrah’s British lawyers are acting through her cousin, who has moved the high court in Dhaka. The court has for the fourth time ordered her parents and the uncle - already in contempt of court for ignoring three earlier notices - to produce Humayrah before the court Dec 14.

British justice minister Bridget Prentice said: “I am delighted that the courts have already begun to make use of the Forced Marriage Order to prevent forced marriage. This is very significant and demonstrates quite clearly that the Act will make a real difference to the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our society.”

The majority of British victims involve families of South Asian origin, but there are cases from a range of countries including Somalia, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. In the first nine months of this year, the government’s Forced Marriage Unit was contacted by 1,308 callers fearing they or someone close to them might be forced into marriage.

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