UK Doctor Drugged, Forced To Wed In Bangladesh

01/19/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

LONDON — Britain's High Court issued an order Friday preventing a London-based doctor from being removed from the U.K. without her consent after her parents forced her into an arranged marriage in Bangladesh.

Humayra Abedin, 32, returned to Britain on Tuesday, days after a Bangladeshi court in Dhaka ordered her parents to cooperate with a British injunction and allow her to return to England if she wishes. After telling the court she wished to leave, she was escorted to the British High Commission where her return to London was arranged.

Abedin said that while in Bangladesh, she was forced to marry a man her parents chose.

Her lawyer, Anne-Marie Hutchinson, said she is working to nullify that marriage, and that British courts have the power to invalidate the marriage because Abedin is a U.K. resident.

Hutchinson said the marriage was only on paper; though the ceremony took place, the couple never lived together and the marriage was not consummated.

High Court Judge Paul Coleridge said Friday that marrying without consent was "a complete aberration of the whole concept of marriage in a civilized society."

Abedin has lived in Britain since 2002 but returned to Bangladesh in August after hearing that her mother was very sick.

On arriving at her parents' home in Dhaka, Abedin said she was manhandled and locked in a room. She said her passport, tickets and other documents were taken and that she was drugged. She said she managed to send a few text messages seeking help from people in Britain before her cell phone was taken.

Abedin said on Aug. 13, she was forced into an ambulance and taken to a psychiatric clinic, where she said she was held for months and medicated against her will. She said she was told she would not be discharged unless she promised not to return to Britain.

Abedin said she remained at the clinic until Nov. 5, when she was taken to a property in Jessore, where she secretly managed to send some e-mails seeking aid.

On Nov. 14, Abedin says she was taken to another house and forced into a marriage ceremony with Dr. Khondokar Mohammad Abdul Jalal. Afterward she was taken back to the property in Jessore without Jalal, and was eventually returned to Dhaka.

Outside the High Court in London on Friday, Abedin said her ordeal as very difficult but she was happy to be free.

"I'd like to get back to my normal life," she said. Asked what message she had for other women facing similar situations, Abedin said, "Don't give up hope. There is hope."

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