Sikh woman's forced marriage annulled in Britain

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London, Oct 21 (UNI) In a landmark British High Court judgement, Justice Parker today annulled the marriage of a 29-year-old Sikh woman, who went to India for the funeral of her husband, was kidnapped by his family and forced to marry her father-in-law's nephew.

The High Court judge heard that the woman was allegedly told she would be killed if she didn't wed the 27-year-old groom, whom she eventually fled from and returned to Britain.

Justice Parker ordered that the marriage - which came two-and-a-half weeks after the death of the first husband - should be annulled because it was forced on the woman.

The judge, who barred identification of the parties to protect the woman, ordered that copies of her ruling should be sent to the Home Office and Metropolitan Police.

The wife told the judge her first husband's family in Punjab was wealthy and influential and she was from a poor background. They had arranged her first marriage in India and she came to Britain where her husband served a jail sentence for drug offences.

He was killed in a car accident in India and when she went to his funeral, her father-in-law ordered her to marry his nephew, who was two years younger than her.

Justice Parker said the wife had told her that in Punjab she had been given sedative pills by her husband's family and then injected with drugs when they believed she was not taking them.

''Her father-in-law continued to put pressure on her with implied and direct threats. She was not allowed to see her parents and only allowed to make supervised telephone calls. She was confined to her room and closely guarded,'' the court heard.

The threats included that she would never see her parents again and would not be allowed to go back to Britain.

On more than one occasion, her father-in-law said to her he could kill her and make it look like suicide, said the judge.

The woman said she had only met the nephew once before and when she saw him in a corridor and asked him what was going on, he said he did not want to talk about it.

The judge said, ''She told me it was not part of her culture to marry so soon after a death and for a wedding to take place so soon after her husband's death was quite unprecedented.'' The judge said she was told by the woman that the new husband forced her to have sex with him. She ran away and now lives at a secret address in London.

Justice Parker said, ''The story is a dramatic one. The evidence and what the petitioner has said wholly convinces me that her account is true. She was tearful, distressed, sad and upset.'' The judge said she believed the wife when she said her first husband had a 'serious criminal history' from which his family had not protected her.

Of the second marriage, she said, ''I am quite satisfied that if she had not been subjected to the threats and pressure she would not have entered into this marriage.'' Lawyers representing the woman said she was now considering taking legal action against the family for damages for the distress she suffered.

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