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Girls & Women

UK Teenager Saved From Forced Marriage By 'Find My iPhone' App

A teenager used an app on her phone to reveal her location to authorities, after she was taken thousands of miles away from home to be forced into a marriage. 

She used the "Find My iPhone" app and Instagram locations to help her boyfriend locate her after she was taken to Bangladesh, before she was rescued by authorities, the Telegraph reported. 

Details of the case emerged during the trial of the woman’s parents in her hometown of Leeds. 

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The woman, now 19, who can’t be named for legal reasons, was reportedly taken out of college during term time and tricked by her parents into going on a six-week "holiday" in 2016.

But just a week into the trip, reported the Guardian, she was told that she was actually there to be married to her cousin. 

“[The victim] was stunned and she refused,” Michelle Colborne QC, prosecuting, reportedly told the jury. "[Her father] told her that [the groom] had been chosen for her, that he was suitable and talked of the plan. When she refused, she sought out the support of the other defendant, her mother, who made it clear that this was a shared plan for her future.” 

Read more: English Mum Found Guilty of Forcing Teen Daughter to Marry 33-Year-Old Man

“Her mother swore at her, reminded her that no was not an option and that if necessary there would be violence against her,” she continued. “She was later to encourage her husband to strike her. At no point did [the daughter] agree to the proposal and very quickly an impasse developed between them.”

“[Her father] would ask her, for instance, if she’d changed her mind yet and threatened to slit her throat if she didn’t comply,” she said. “She stopped eating and was deeply distressed. He made reference to the fact that he’d brought her up for 18 years with love, but that he’d chop her up in 18 seconds if she disrespected him.” 

Her parents also reportedly told her that she would be left in Bangladesh for a year, so that she would get pregnant and her “husband” could get a British visa.

Read more: There Were Nearly 1,200 Forced Marriage Cases in the UK Last Year

But her boyfriend was able to tell police what had happened, and the British High Commission in Bangladesh, the UK’s Forced Marriage Unit, and Bangladeshi police worked together to ensure her rescue.

Her parents were arrested days later when they fled back to Heathrow, according to the Telegraph, and her siblings were taken into care. 

After a three-week trial, her parents were found guilty of using violence, threats, or coercion to force marriage at Leeds Crown Court on Tuesday, and they will be sentenced on June 18. 

Michael Quinn, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said the successful prosecution “sends a clear message that forced marriage is a very serious crime and those responsible will be prosecuted.” 

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Earlier this month, England saw its first-ever successful forced marriage prosecution, when a mother in Birmingham was convicted of tricking her 17-year-old daughter into travelling to Pakistan to marry a 33-year-old man. She was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison, while the maximum jail term in the UK for forced marriage is seven years. 

It’s vital for high-profile trials like these to draw attention to the issue of forced marriage in the UK, with 1,196 cases reported to the government’s Forced Marriage Unit last year. 

And yet these figures might not even capture the full scale of the abuse, according to a report released by the Home Office and the Foreign Office this month, which described forced marriage as a “hidden crime.” 

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