Against Her Will
The Government used an event in Leicester to launch a new legislation which could help to end the misery of forced marriages in the UK. Listen to one Leicester woman's harrowing experience as she was married against her will.
More than 250 forced marriages are reported each year in the UK.
Five thousand people contact the Government's Forced Marriage Unit.
Unfortunately 30% of the 5,000 people are children aged between 10 and 16 and 15% are men.
A 'Forced Marriage' is a marriage conducted without the valid consent of both people, where pressure or abuse is used.
In a forced marriage you are coerced into marrying someone against your will and you maybe physically threatened or blackmailed into marrying.
Kidnapped, beaten and forced to marry a strange man. This sounds like the work of fictions but this story of a forced marriage is closer to home for one Leicester woman.
But what actually is a 'Forced Marriage'? BBC Leicester's Bridget Blair explains...
The subject of forced marriage includes years of imprisonment, physical and psychological abuse, rape and in the most extreme cases murder.
To combat the problem the Government is using a special event here in Leicester to launch new legislation, which it hopes will end the misery of forced marriages here in the UK.
This change in law and the event itself is aimed at bringing together a number of influential people to debate the contentious issue of forced marriages and family honour.
Kirti is a victim of a forced marriage. Her name has been changed to protect her identity.
At the age of just 14 she was abducted in her native Africa by a man who then imprisoned her, raped her and finally forced her to marry him.
When she turned to her parents desperate for help, they were not willing to come to her rescue.
Consequently she has spent 30 years trapped in a marriage she never agreed to - and a life of pain, torture and abject loneliness which she never wanted
Listen: Kirti's Story: Part One
She now lives in Leicester and has been telling her harrowing story to BBC Leicester's Rupal Rajani...
"He was a very bad person. He used to beat me. He was also older than me. He made my life miserable. Still I am with him."
At the age of fifteen she gave birth to her first daughter. She now has five children and says she did try and break away.
When she tried to go back to her parents and her father refused to take her back, telling her that she was now married to her husband, and she would have to live with him regardless of whether she wanted to.
It was the case of family honour.
Listen: Kirti's Story: Part Two
In the second part of her interview Kirti talks about her struggle to come to terms with her so-called marriage and her advice for people in similar situations...
"I had to suffer a lot because I got no love from my parents, no love from my husband, no love from my in-laws. I had no support from anyone.
"When we entered this country I was told by my husband that I have no rights."
Kirti says her husband, who is eleven-year-older than her is now disabled with many medical problems.
Her children who are aware of her situation have told her to break away for him.
Suffering in Silence
Rupal asks her why is she still with him? Why does she continue to live trapped in this marriage?
She replies she doesn't know the answer.
"I'm trying my best to make this family happy as best as I can.
"I'm trying to make my husband understand that what he did was not right and I don't want any other woman or girl to suffer like me.
"This is a very good country and all the girls have got good opportunities in this country not to give themselves up."
Kirti shares her thoughts on what she thinks should be done to prevent more women and young girls ending up in forced marriages.
Despite the fact she had no control over what happened to her, she says today help is out there:
"I didn't have any ideas what to do. But in this country there are so many organisations that can help.
"Parents have no right when they say they do this for the girl. First they have to look and see if the girl is ready for marriage, is she happy? She has to choose her way.
"If there are any parents that are doing this against them then they should be sent to prison for the rest of their life."
last updated: 26/11/2008 at 12:18