After four months, he came up to my room with a gun and told me I had to marry my cousin.”
A British Asian girl has recently revealed that she was forced to marry her cousin at gunpoint on a vacation in Pakistan.
Tasbassan Khan not her real name, was aged 15, when she faced her ordeal during a holiday in Pakistan.
Khan as a teenager was taken on the trip by her uncle and aunt, with whom she was living, and was completely unaware that she would be held captive and subsequently, forced to marry her elder cousin.
Speaking about the trip to Pakistan, Khan told the Sunday Express:
“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.”
Khan further added:
“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,” she added.
It was later revealed that the forced marriage was pre-planned by her six-year older cousin in order to attain a spousal visa and gain entry to the UK.
Khan was residing with her aunty in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, because Tasbassan’s father had murdered her mother when she was only 12 years old.
Due to her broken family background and terrible circumstances, she and her two brothers were left in the ‘safe’ custody of her aunt.
Khan suffered three years of sexual abuse by her husband, until she filed for a divorce from a local Pakistani court. Once she was granted a divorce, she returned to the UK in 2008.
Tasbassan explained that she had no support from her brothers, although she sacrificed her life for their wellbeing:
“Even my brothers aren’t supportive. I went to Women’s Aid but the Asian women there know my family. If I talked to them, they would tell them.
“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.”
The 26-year-old is now working with schools to address the issues that young girls have to face in relation to forced marriages. She’s been working with an organisation called “It’s My Right: No Forced Marriages”.
Tasbassan Khan, as a British Asian girl, is a survivor but it has not been easy, as she reveals:
“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.”
Khan encourages that the British government should take action and help girls who are victimised by their families by being sent abroad and forced into marriage.
“I don’t think they understand Asian communities. In Muslim families honour is incredibly important. His brother lives nearby and every time he walks past my house he spits,” she says.
A BBC report in July 2015 states that in over a five year period, there have been over 11,000 UK honour killing cases recorded.
Unfortunately, these records only include the killings that have been reported. The figure does not depict the real extent of the crime due to the perpetrators being part of the victim’s family.
Furthermore, a recent report conducted by the Human Rights Commission highlights the increase of honour killings in Pakistan. Nearly 1,100 women were killed in 2015 by relatives who believed they had dishonoured their families.