British judge annuls forced Indian marriage

October 21st, 2008 - 6:50 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Oct 21 (IANS) A British judge has annulled the Indian marriage of a Sikh woman, ruling it was forced on her.Judge Judith Parker ordered the marriage annulled at a high court hearing Monday after the 29-year-old Sikh complained she was kidnapped by her dead husband’s family when she went to India for his funeral and forced to marry a relative.

The family coerced her to marry her father-in-law’s nephew and allegedly told her she would be killed if she didn’t wed the 27-year-old - just two-and-a-half weeks after the death of her husband in a car crash, she said.

However, the woman, whose identity was withheld by the judge in order to protect her, was able to flee the groom and return to Britain, The Daily Mail reported Tuesday.

The judge’s action comes amid mounting concern in Britain over forced marriages of young British women of South Asian origin.

Said to number in their thousands every year, such marriages - which are distinct from consensual arranged marriages - can lead to violence against women by their husbands.

The judge, ordering that copies of her ruling be sent to the British home ministry and police, said the woman had told her that her husband came from a wealthy and influential family in Punjab.

“The story is a dramatic one. The evidence and what the petitioner has said wholly convinces me that her account is true. She was tearful, distressed, sad and upset,” Parker said.

“I am quite satisfied that if she had not been subjected to the threats and pressure she would not have entered into this [second] marriage,” she added.

Parker said the woman had told her that that her husband’s family gave her sedative pills and injected her with drugs.

“Her father-in-law continued to put pressure on her with implied and direct threats. She was not allowed to see her parents and only allowed to make supervised telephone calls. She was confined to her room and closely guarded,” the judge said.

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