A British teenager has been rescued from a forced marriage to her Bangladeshi cousin after begging diplomats to help her, local police said on Thursday.
The 19-year-old woman travelled from Britain with her mother to Sylhet, in north-eastern Bangladesh, where she was to marry the son of her mother’s brother, local police chief Mohidur Rahman Khan told AFP.
Hours before the wedding was to take place, Nasrin Begum telephoned the British consular office in Sylhet and begged staff to intervene because she did not want to marry the man, Khan said.
“The embassy officials came to the village with police and rescued the girl from a marriage that she did not want,” he said. Local government chief Ataur Rahman said Nasrin, who was born in the UK, was later handed back to her mother, Asma Begum, after assurances that she would not be forced into the marriage.
A spokesman for the British High Commission in Dhaka said staff assisted in 56 forced marriage cases between April 2007 and March 2008.
“We think there are more out there,” he said, refusing to comment on the Begum case, which comes a day after the British government tightened visa rules as part of a crackdown on forced marriages.
Britain’s Forced Marriage Unit, set up by the Home and Foreign offices, handles some 5,000 enquiries and 400 cases per year concerning young Britons at risk of being forced into marriage overseas.