Leeds & West Yorkshire

Leeds forced marriage claim teen 'joked' of alleged plot

A plane at Bangladesh airport Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Prosecutors claim the teenager was taken to Bangladesh on the pretence she was seeing relatives, but found out she would be marrying her cousin days after arriving there

An alleged teenage victim of a forced marriage joked about her parents "giving her away" weeks before she flew to Bangladesh, a court has been told.

The 19-year-old was lured on a sham holiday on 3 July 2016 to force her to marry her cousin, jurors heard.

Her parents, who cannot be named for legal reasons, are on trial at Leeds Crown Court via a Bengali interpreter.

They both deny charges of attempting to coerce their daughter into marrying without her consent.

The Leeds woman used her phone to send her location details to her boyfriend, who then informed West Yorkshire Police on 11 July she may be in danger, prompting her eventual rescue, the jury heard.

Giving evidence from behind a screen, her boyfriend told the court that three weeks before flying to Bangladesh, the teenager had mentioned her father selling his possessions and joked: "What if he is planning to give me away?".

"I could only think about one thing... and that's the Asian culture of arranged marriage," he said.

However, he claimed he took her remark to be a "joke" and was not initially worried.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Leeds Crown Court heard the teenager sent her location details to her boyfriend, who then told police

But it was not until seven days into the trip that the woman contacted him and, in one message, told him not to text her "for a while", he told the court.

The boyfriend told jurors he became concerned as a result and suspected her parents were forcing her into an arranged marriage.

He messaged her saying: "You could have seen this coming," the court was told.

He described how he became "terrified" and "scared".

"She was far away and I did not know what was happening," he told the jury.

The trial continues.

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