The following case studies represent a cross section of experiences of the victims of forced marriage.
Case Study A:
'A' is 25 years old. Three years ago he was forced to marry a girl from Pakistan.
"I was born in Glasgow and lived there all my life. I met a girl at university and I even took her to see my mum. They got on really well and I planned on marrying her after I graduated. I went on holiday to Pakistan before I graduated and one day my uncles and aunts sat me down and told me I should marry a girl from Pakistan. I told them I didn't want to get married but they kept telling me I should do it for the sake of my parents and told me how much they had sacrificed for us. My aunt told me how only a Pakistani girl would be able to treat my parents with respect and take care of them in their old age. They kept pressurising me, making me feel I was selfish and uncaring and that I would never be happy if I didn't listen to my elders. I was left with no choice and within four days I was engaged.
"When I got back I had to tell my girlfriend what happened and she was really upset and stopped talking to me. I tried to call off the engagement many times but I was told this would shame the family and have a negative impact on my sisters' marriages. One year later I got married in Pakistan and my wife joined me in the UK. I felt trapped and unable to express myself to my wife whom I shared nothing with.
"My wife is a really nice person, very loving and caring and the perfect daughter in law, but she is not the wife I wanted. We have nothing in common and don't do anything together. I couldn't leave her as this was not her fault but it means I have to share my life with someone I don't really want to be with."
Case Study B:
My name is Tara and I celebrated my 17th birthday last month. Life was okay for me until one day we had a visit from my granny.
When I had just turned 16 we had a visit from my granny. My family was happy to see her, especially my mum. After dinner my mum, dad and two of my uncles and my granddad all gathered in our lounge for a family chat. This is quite normal. At about 11 pm I came down to fetch some water and heard them talking about me but I just ignored it as they always talk about children - how good or bad their behaviour is, who is getting married and so on and so forth.
After a while I was asked to come down and join them which I did with some reluctance as I was watching 'Bride and Prejudice' and I was dreaming of my own Mr Darcy. Anyway I had no choice but to obey the orders.
I noticed everyone in the room seemed happy and smiling. My mum asked me to sit beside her. There was silence for a few seconds and then my mum said I have some happy news for you, your granny has brought a proposal for you from India. The boy's family have a business and are a very nice family, they actually take care of our land and house in India.
It took me a few seconds to understand what my mother was saying until my mum asked "so what do you think - aren't you lucky?".
I said: "No, I don't want to marry him, I hardly know him" and ran upstairs to my bed. I could hear my mum shouting, ordering me to come back and my dad saying let her go, we will speak to her in the morning.
I also heard Granny shouting at me saying: "you are a spoiled brat with no respect for your elders".
The family meeting went on until the early hours of the next day. I felt scared and couldn't sleep. I needed to speak to someone to share my fear but I don't have any friends except my cousins.
The next day when I came down I found my mum and granny were crying. This continued for days. Every day my mum and dad would fight over my marriage (my dad had his own agenda; he wants me to marry his nephew). I love my mum and did not like my dad shouting at her, I didn't want my parents to fight over my marriage.
This went on for days, everyday mum raised the question of marriage and I kept saying no. She would get angry and throw things - shouting at me saying "our Izzat (honour) is gone, it is washed in the water" and "you are influenced by the gori's (fair skinned girls), I asked you not to mix with them". She always used the word Izzat and this didn't make any sense to me.
My granny blamed my mum, "it is your fault, there is something wrong with the way you bring your children up".
After a few weeks my granny moved to my uncle's house as she was disappointed with me and my parents. One day when I went to my uncle's house, I found my granny was crying and my uncle shouted at me saying it was all my fault.
My mum and uncle were not talking to each other for few years and when my granny came she brought them together, so they are now talking to each other.
I couldn't cope with this anymore; I came home and said yes I will marry him. It was so easy to say yes. At the time I did not know what marriage is - I thought if I just say yes, they will stop fighting.
One day when I was coming back from school I was asked to go straight to my house and that I was getting married. When I arrived there, I found my mum, dad, uncle, his wife and some other people. I was told by my brother "You are getting married today on the phone". (I had no knowledge of this before). For me this was strange and I never took it seriously. I went through the ceremony and said - Qubul- and signed some papers (I think). I was told now I am married to him and he is my husband. I found everybody happy except me.
My mum and others are now referred to him as my husband and are planning to bring him to the UK. I have started to realise how serious the matter is and I am really scared.
I have no friends outside my family and cousins. I was never allowed to have friends. My mum would watch me going to school and coming back from school to make sure I am coming straight home.
Therefore I had nobody to share my fears with. I couldn't cope with pressure anymore so one day I disclosed my fears to my teacher who told the head teacher and the head teacher called the police.
The police were really good, they are nothing like I had imagined or heard. Before I met the police for real I was so scared of them, I would never have called them for help.
The police used to visit me in school once every week, sometimes twice in a week. They told me there are other people who could help me. They said they could help me and there is no need for me to go through this.
They never forced me to do anything, they said when you are ready to leave we can help you, it is your decision.
I was so confused. The police found out everything for me. I felt they were like my second home.
The pressure from my family for me to go to India was getting harder and harder and one day I realised I had no other option but to leave home if I want to escape this marriage. I called the police, who talked to the people in the refuge and took me to the refuge. The workers at the refuge were so supportive and helpful that I couldn't believe. This is all a new world to me.
I missed my mum and dad, they are not bad people. They are a very nice couple, my dad buys me nice clothes and we are looked after very well.
I missed my mum's cooking and especially the sweets. After about six weeks, one day I called my mum, because I just wanted to hear her voice. My mum started to cry, very upset, and she begged me to come back. She said "everything will be fine, dad will take care of everything, and your sisters are missing you" and "we were wrong to send you to India, please come back".
I use to receive around 10 to 20 calls a day from mum and dad. My mum was always crying and saying "our Izzat is gone, people are talking about us here and in India. You please come back". One day my uncle called to say the police were coming to take me. This would have worked before I knew about the police and they way they operate.
One day my mum called and said "Dad is not well at all, he is missing you, and you know you are his favourite daughter". I believed my mum and dad and also I was missing them and my sisters very much. So, I went home.
For the first week everybody was nice and nobody mentioned anything about the man or his family.
In the second week my mum started to be nasty to me, she used to shout verbal abuse and blame me for dishonouring the family name. "Because of you we have lost our face in the community, our name is tarnished", she said.
Now my uncle, aunty and dad also joined in the abuse. Once my mum slapped me.
I was not allowed to go out on my own and was locked in a room. If my mum needed to go out she would take me to my uncle's house and ask one of my cousins to keep an eye on me.
I heard them talking of taking me to India to amend their mistake. I was scared and did not know how to get out of the situation. I was not allowed to go to school so I had no access to anyone.
One day all of the family members gathered at my house. They asked me to come to one of the rooms, sat me in the middle and others sat around me. I can remember every one of them was shouting at me, reminding me what a bad girl I had been by leaving the home and what the consequences had been. I started to feel shaky, sweaty, and weak and had a kind of fit. Next thing I knew was that I was in the hospital. I thanked my stars; I thought now I could get help.
I seized my opportunity and told one of the doctors who came to examine me to call the police.
The doctor understood my problem and called the police.
I was taken back to the refuge by the police. Now it is nearly six months and I have made no contact with my family.
And then one day I heard my mum is not well so I called home to find out how she is. From there on my mum and dad are in regular contact with me.
They say: "we are sorry for all that happened to you, look your mum is not well because she is missing you. We all miss you. Please come back home."
"We told the man's family that the marriage is finished. We care about you, we want our daughter back."
I don't know what I should do - after all they are my parents.
Except for forcing me to get married to this man who is 40 years old, they were very nice to me. They took care of my every need.
So do you understand how I am feeling right now? How confused I am between my safety and loyalty to my family.
Case Study C:
Social work contacted Amina Muslim Women's Resource Centre about a young woman in Glasgow, aged 19 because she had disclosed to them that she feared her father would force her into marriage. When Zara was 15 years of age, she went to Bangladesh on a family trip. During that time her father had persuaded her to become engaged to her cousin. At the time she agreed to this engagement, as she was young and did not feel she could say no. However, a number of years later Zara was attending college and she no longer wanted to be engaged to her cousin. When she told her father, he was very angry and told her she would bring disgrace to her family, if she did not go through with the marriage. Zara was frightened and did not know what to do. Staff at Amina MWRC provided a listening ear and helped Zara to discuss her fears. We ensured that she was safe and was not in immediate danger of being taken abroad and gave her some advice about what to do if she felt in danger again. We informed Zara of the help available at the Forced Marriage Unit and Women's Aid. Zara was reassured by this information and felt more confident about speaking to her father about breaking off the engagement.