'My father told me he would chop me up in 18 seconds - a second for every year he had loved me'

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has spoken exclusively to the Yorkshire Post abouther life-changing and unimaginable ordeal at the hands of the two people who should have loved her the most.
The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has spoken exclusively to the Yorkshire Post abouther life-changing and unimaginable ordeal at the hands of the two people who should have loved her the most.
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It was a family holiday to Bangladesh that she and her siblings had been looking forward to - especially with her all important A-Level results looming.

She had even had her hair done, nails manicured and bought an abundance of new clothes. Little did she know that if her parents had their way she would never be returning to the UK and forced to stay in a country and marry a man she had never met, let alone loved.

West Yorkshire Police's forced marriage campaign

West Yorkshire Police's forced marriage campaign

READ MORE: Meet the police officer who made history and saved a young Yorkshire woman from the clutches of her controlling parents

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has shared her life-changing and unimaginable ordeal with the Yorkshire Post in her bid to raise awareness of forced marriage.

She can still remember the moment her father told her she was getting married. It was July 11, 2016.

"Come with me, we need to talk he said," she recalls.

READ MORE: Children as young as 13 saved from clutches of forced marriage across Yorkshire

"He told me I knew him, said that I liked him and that the real reason we had come here was for me. 'You are getting married', he told me.

"I laughed and said 'yea, alright then', but he was serious and when I said 'no', he told me I was going to marry the man and that everything had been planned for July 21, 2016.

"He told me he would kill me if I didn't go ahead, and he said that being in prison would be better than having a daughter say no to him, for the community to see that and the shame. He said he would chop me up in 18 seconds - a second for each of the year he had loved me.

Read more: Leeds case a milestone in battle to halt forced marriages

"I saw the pond next to me and he pointed and said that was where I would be dumped."

Petrified, the woman didn't know whether to play along with what her father was saying and get married and tell the police, so she sought solace in the arms of her mother - the one person she thought she could trust.

She was wrong. Her mother told her she would stay in Bangladesh and get pregnant like she did and then she could go home.

"I thought now what? I get married and raped?" she said.

"I closed my eyes and told myself 'kill yourself, it is the only way out'."

"I planned on getting a knife to stab myself. I knew I would have a 50 per cent chance of living. If I lived they would send me home or to a hospital and I could get help. If I died, I would be free. Those odds were worth it."

She messaged her boyfriend as a desperate bid to get help and he told her he would contact the police.

Read more: Spoons are school’s secret weapon in battle to stop forced marriages

With the help of her siblings she managed to get the number for the British Embassy in Dhaka and rung them using thier phone.

"They were aware of me and said that a woman called Abby had been in touch with them," she said.

"I didn't know who Abby was at this point, but it didn't matter. She knew, they knew and over the next two days we talked when it was safe to do so and I did as I was told, all along playing along with the wedding."

Whilst her parents had gone out to deliver wedding invitations and get wedding decorations, she was left at home with her grandmother and sisters. A call from the British Embassy confirmed her rescuers were coming.

"My heart was racing, I felt sick," she recalls. "What if it didn’t work? What if I got caught? What if the police bribed them?

"There was a phone call and they told me they were in a white car and asked if I could see them, I couldn't.

"I told my grandma I wanted to see the area and that I was going to go to the road and that is when I saw a white car.

"A voice shouted 'don't run, walk towards the police man', I ran.

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"There was a man stood there, he was English and he said to me 'you're OK'.

"I was so scared, they were coming after me on bikes with guns.

"The man told the driver and we drove. I stayed in the foot-well the whole way until I dared to come up.

"That was it. I was out of there. No marriage. No family."

After a lengthy investigation, entitled Operation Axledale and conducted by Abigail Fox-Greenwood from the Leeds District Safeguarding Team at West Yorkshire Police, the woman's parents were brought before the courts and eventually jailed on July 30, 2018.

Her father was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison, whilst her mother was jailed for three-and-a-half years.

"The people who were supposed to love me the most are now in prison," she said.

"They have never offered me an explanation as to why they did what they did and they have never said sorry.

"They are monsters and my life is brighter without them, but that doesn't mean I haven't felt grief or a sense of loss and a broken trust.

"It's very hard for me to trust anyone."

The woman has now moved away from Leeds and changed her identity. She chooses not to tell people what happened to her because she doesn't want pity. Remarkably she managed to complete her degree at university and start a new chapter of her life.

"The day I was rescued was the day I lost my family and the day I disowned by them and the community," she said.

"Now, if I go out and I have to tell someone where I am at all times, I have to let people know when I am at work or on my way home from friends. I go to places and I stand by an exit, I won’t have my photo taken near any identifying places. This is my life now and whilst I exist, this is not a “normal” existence but it is mine, and I am proud."