News: Return of Humayra Abedin in Forced Marriage Case

16Dec08

The return today of trainee GP Humayra Abedin to London today made a clear message of what the state can do for women in cases of forced marriage. New laws launched by the UK in November this year set the scene for the protection of vulnerable women who may have previously disappeared from school, and life in Britain to be married off to a suitor chosen by their families. These laws mean that the victim, a friend or the police could apply for a Forced Marriage Protection Order forbidding families from taking the victim abroad for marriage, seizing the passports of the victim, or threatening them to fall inline with family plans.

The recent case involving Humayra Abedin, saw the British government reach out with this legislation, despite the fact that she is not a British national; Humayra has been studying for a Master’s degree in Public Health for the last six years and recently moved to London to become a registrar at a GP surgery in East London. She returned to Dhakar on the request of her mother who had told her she was ill however the police were contacted when a friend received a text message from Humyara saying she was in danger.

The Foreign Office issued protection under the Forced Marriage Act, not technically enforceable overseas due to Humyara’s nationality, and the Bangladeshi court system showed great responsibility for the safety and equaity of women by placing Humyara into the care of the British High Commission. She is reportedly exhausted but happy to be back home.

Notes
* The Foreign and Commonwealth Office Forced Marriage Unit
* Scottish Government has commissioned a consultation, Forced Marriage: A Civil Remedy? with the involvement of the Scotland’s Forced Marraige Network which will run until March, 2009

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