Page last updated at 18:38 GMT, Monday, 9 March 2009

Woman speaks over forced marriage

The woman in silhouette
The order was made against the woman's father in February

A woman who used new legal powers to save herself from a forced marriage in Pakistan has spoken of her ordeal.

The 22-year-old from Lancashire obtained a Forced Marriage Protection Order against her father in February.

She took action after he told her in a "bolt out of the blue" she was to be married against her will.

The woman, who does not want to be named, said: "By taking out the order, it made him realise I was sure about what I was doing and that no means no."

She became engaged to a relative of her father's three years ago during a trip to Pakistan - and a year ago was then told by her father she must go back to marry him.

"I think he thought I should do it because to him it was a matter of honour. He had given his word," she said.

"The proposal was put forward to me and I said 'yes' because it was expected of me. There was a lot of emotional pressure but I knew nothing about the man.

The proposal was put forward to me and I said 'yes' because it was expected of me

Woman granted a Forced Marriage Protection Order

"I am not against arranged marriages - or finding myself a husband - but this was different. This was something I was being forced into.

"I had a very normal family life. It wasn't very traditional. The only traditional element was that I was expected to marry who my father chose for me."

A month before she was due to return to Pakistan, the woman contacted officers at the police's community cohesion unit.

A judge at Blackburn County Court then granted the order against her father, stopping her being forced into marriage.

If he breaks the terms of the order he faces immediate arrest.

Orders can include a requirement to hand over passports, to stop intimidation and violence, to reveal the whereabouts of a person and to stop someone from being taken abroad.

The woman's mother and brothers were supportive of her actions and she continued to live with her family - but relations with her father are still strained.

The woman added: "I don't feel guilty or ashamed about what has gone on because I have done nothing wrong.

"If I had gone through with the wedding it would have been more like I was living for others than living for myself."

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