A British Pakistani girl has told how she was forced at gunpoint to marry her cousin in Pakistan who then raped her everyday for three years before she finally escaped.
Tabassan Khan, was given a new name and identity to protect her when she came back to the UK.
Before visiting Pakistan she had been living with her aunt in Doncaster after her father was jailed for murdering her mother when she was only 12.
When she turned 15 years old she was told by the family members she was living with that she was going along with them on a summer holiday to Pakistan.
Once she arrived she was urged by her uncle to stay with them in Pakistan, eventually forcing her at gunpoint to marry her cousin who was six years older than her.
She was then held captive and raped everyday for the next three years.
Ms Khan said: “I thought I was going to Pakistan on holiday. I was excited. Then two months passed and it was time to start the school year. I asked my uncle when I should go back and he just kept saying, ‘Stay a bit longer’ for weeks. After four months, he came up to my room with a gun and told me I had to marry my cousin.
“I kept refusing, but he told me that if I didn’t do it he would kill my brothers. I was terrified but felt I had no choice. On my wedding night my cousin raped me. I thought my cousins were family. It felt so wrong. He raped me every night for three years. I felt I was a sex worker, stuck in that room. I was ashamed.”
Ms Khan was later told that the marriage had been arranged so her cousin could get a visa to come to the UK.
When she turned 18 she was sent back to the UK to work and get her husband over.
She said: “A while later I heard my aunt on the phone with my mother-in-law in Pakistan. She said, ‘Once he gets his visa he can divorce her and do what he wants’.
“It was only then that I realised what this whole thing had been about. I decided then that I would not go back. My family threatened to disown me and make me homeless but I didn’t care by then. I asked for a divorce.”
She added: ‘In Muslim culture the girl is supposed to do as she is told. The backward people from villages in Pakistan think they can do what they want with us. Our lives mean nothing. We are just a way to get a visa. They will do anything to get someone over here. If they’ve family abroad, they gain respect.’
“I have tried to take my life so many times since. I saw myself as the type of person who would get married, have children and be happy. But I haven’t been able to be with anyone ever since.
“My family ruined my childhood. I am just waiting to die.”
The Home Office in a move to tackle the issue has said they will introduce lifelong anonymity to victims of forced marriages.
Ms Khan was eventually given a divorce through Pakistani courts and is now working with schools to tackle the issue of forces marriages.