A WOMAN has spoken out about her terrifying experience in a bid to highlight the heartbreak that forced marriage causes.

Priya (not her real name) thought she was going on holiday abroad with her family but was soon introduced to a man she was told she had to marry.


After refusing, her family became increasingly controlling. They confiscated her passport, would not let her out of the house for six months and forced her to dress in full black before she eventually managed to escape.

Even then her nightmare was not over after she was discovered and beaten by relatives of her husband to be.

The 29-year-old, who is now living in Lancashire, said: “They said ‘we will get you a ticket so you can go on holiday. Enjoy yourself’ so I flew out there and everything was okay for about two months.

“When I reached my birthday they said ‘you need to get married’ but I told them I didn’t want to. They said I was getting older and there was a family friend I should meet. They said ‘you will get to know him. He will not harm you’.”

When Priya’s visa ran out and she was due to return to the UK, they put extra locks on the door.

“I could not go out out on my own. I was saying ‘no’ to the marriage and I realised they were serious.

“I started rebelling then they cut my hair because I would not put a hijab on.

“They told me I had to learn how to cook for him and be a good wife.

“I did not go out for months. They were scared I would run away. They unplugged all of the house phones and disconnected the internet.

“I was constantly followed even if I went to the toilet. At that point I thought it was over and nobody would help me.”

A venue had been booked for the wedding and relatives from across the world were invited.

“I thought there was something wrong with me. They said ‘when you get married and have a husband the feelings will come’.

“I tried to talk to him and said ‘I do not want to marry you and if you say no my family won’t push me’ but he said ‘you marry me and I will be a good husband’.”

Priya said everyday she was looking to escape, even throwing food away so she would have to go shopping. Her chance came when a relative left the door unlocked.

She ran down dozens of flights of stairs and to the nearest phonebox where she called the police.

“When I ran my heart was in my mouth. I did not even put my shoes on.”

She was taken to a detention centre before a sympathetic cousin rented a house for her to stay in, although soon became paranoid that she had been spotted.

“The detention centre was like a mini jail but I was free. I loved it. I did not have to see him or my relatives,” she said.

On the day she was due to fly back to the UK she ran into relatives of the man she was supposed to marry who beat her up.

“They were mad because I embarrassed him. They said he felt ashamed,” she said.

“They ripped off my clothing, kicked me, punched me.”

Priya came back to the UK and was relocated to Lancashire. She now has no contact with her family.

“I feel good now. I am happy and I feel free every day. Every morning it makes me happy that I am not married to him,” she said.

Shigufta Khan, chief executive of domestic abuse service the Wish Centre, based in Blackburn, said it has dealt with 35 forced marriage cases over the past year compared to 19 the year before, mainly because of increased awareness.

The organisation is a partner in the Our Girl campaign which has produced a short animated film to get communities talking and acting towards ending forced marriage, which was made a criminal offence in 2014.

She said people often come under emotional pressure from family members and it is a particular issue for those with learning disabilities who are most vulnerable.

“Marriage is something you have to give consent to and it has to be given freely,” she said.

“The campaign is about education and making sure people know their rights.”

To contact the Wish Centre phone 01254 260465 or the forced marriage unit on 020 70080151.