Page last updated at 09:37 GMT, Monday, 15 December 2008

Captive doctor to return to UK

Humayra Abedin is expected to return to the UK on Monday

An NHS doctor who was freed following claims that she was being held captive in Bangladesh by her parents is due to fly into the UK later.

Lawyers for trainee GP Humayra Abedin, 33, from east London, said her family planned to force her into marriage.

She had travelled to Dhaka in August after hearing her mother was very ill.

London's High Court had ordered her return to the UK under the new Forced Marriage Act and the High Court in Dhaka has now ruled she must be freed.

Lawyer Sara Hossain, representing Dr Abedin in Bangladesh, said her client was "very relieved" by the decision and had "clearly stated" that she wanted to return to the UK immediately.

Dr Abedin's parents had been ordered to appear at Dhaka's High Court with their daughter on Sunday.

She was later released into the custody of the court and handed over to the British High Commission. She is expected to return to Heathrow from Dhaka on Monday.

Judge Syed Mahmud Hossain said her parents' actions were "not acceptable".

Dr Abedin's father collapsed from shock after the court's ruling.

'Hope' for women

The BBC's Mark Dummett in Dhaka said Dr Abedin had been held captive first at her family's home and then at a psychiatric hospital following claims she was not able to make decisions for herself.

Anne-Marie Hutchinson was part of the legal team fighting for Dr Abedin's release

But she had managed to get messages to her friends in the UK about her plight who then notified the British authorities, he said.

She has chosen not to press charges against her parents.

Dr Abedin's UK lawyer, Anne-Marie Hutchinson, said there were currently up to 350 similar cases involving British women and she hoped the latest case would give them hope.

"What the ruling makes clear is that there is a right of redress," she said.

"I would hope that many other young victims, or potential victims, would feel confident enough now to come forward and feel confident in the fact that courts will act and authorities overseas will act on their human rights and implement them."

She added that, although forced marriage was already illegal in Bangladesh, it was significant that the judge had gone public with his ruling in demonstrating that such things were unacceptable.

An unnamed British victim of a forced marriage, who is now separated from her husband, told the BBC's Today programme the ruling was the "best news" for those facing similar situations.

"I think it will give a lot of hope to young girls out there," she said.

Court action

Dr Abedin arrived in Britain in September 2002, when she studied for a Masters degree in public health at Leeds University.

She had been due to start work in August at a GP surgery in east London, but travelled to Dhaka after being told that her mother was ill.

The British High Court had served her family with an injunction under the Forced Marriage Act ordering them to free their daughter and allow her to return to the UK.

However, this was not enforceable overseas because Dr Abedin is not a British national.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said the order was issued in the hope that it might "carry some weight" within the Bangladeshi court system.

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Missing GP 'held' in Bangladesh
09 Dec 08 |  London


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