Rukhsanna was 14 when her parents told her that she was to be married to a cousin in Pakistan in three years’ time.
But, when Rukhsanna was 16, she started an online relationship with a young man. Her family found out and reacted very badly: they took her phone, interrogated her about the relationship, and kept her at home. They shouted at her and told her she had brought shame on the family. Her parents decided to bring the marriage forward, and said they would go to Pakistan after the school term ended.
Rukhsanna was worried about her situation and felt under a lot of pressure. Her faith, family and community were very important to her but she did not want to get married. She wanted to go university and build her own life first. She told her parents this, but they told her she had no choice.
Rukhsanna told a teacher what was happening. The school contacted Shakti.
Rukhsanna told our young people’s worker that she was scared she would be forced to go to Pakistan, and about what would happen to her there.
We helped her look at the various options and their possible consequences, and gave her a safe space to talk freely about her feelings and concerns.
We also worked with other agencies to make sure that her safety and needs were put first, and that she was involved in any discussions before anything was done.
Rukhsanna is now living independently away from home, with a forced marriage protection order, and also support from Shakti and other agencies. It has been a hard time for her but she feels she has a future, and is glad not to be married to her cousin in Pakistan.