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“My parents were strict Scots Muslims and as a teenager I couldn’t choose when I went out, or who my friends were,” she says. I just wanted an independent life, like the girls I saw on TV.” At 18, Khan ran away from home, beginning a year-long cat-and-mouse chase with her paternal uncles.“I tried to disappear,” she says, “first in Dundee, then in London, where I signed on as a homeless person.Forced marriage, where there is no consent, is distinct from arranged marriage, in which both parties have consented to, but can refuse, the union.
In some cases, she’s aware she’s been promised for marriage since birth.Each time I moved, my uncles tracked me down and threatened to kill me if I didn’t go back to my parents.” Khan returned home.“I was exhausted, and had nowhere to run.” Her parents received her warmly.No one else will want you.’” That night Khan tried to commit suicide.
“I slashed my wrists across, the way they show it on TV dramas, and I just sat there, crying.” “The narratives of forced marriage are those of izzat, or honour,” says Aneeta Prem, the founder of Freedom, a charity that stages awareness-raising talks about forced marriage in British schools.“But the night I returned one uncle put his hands around my throat and hissed that he’d happily serve 20 years for killing me if I pulled a stunt like that again.” Soon afterwards her parents suggested a family holiday to visit relatives in Pakistan.