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Girl Rescued From Forced Marriage by WhatsApp

Her family took her to Bangladesh, then told her she was to marry her cousin
By Janet Cromley,  Newser Staff
Posted May 30, 2018 6:36 PM CDT
Updated May 31, 2018 2:00 AM CDT
The unnamed teen alerted a boyfriend her parents were unaware she had back in the UK to her situation using WhatsApp.   (Getty/PeopleImages)

(Newser) – A wild tale of love and technology worthy of Dateline unspooled recently in a British courtroom. Here's what happened: According to court documents, a teen's family pressured her to travel from their home in Leeds to Bangladesh for what was supposed to be a holiday. But shortly after the teen's arrival on July 3, 2016, per the BBC, she was told by her father that he had selected a husband for her—her cousin. The plan was for the teen and her cousin to have a child, which would have enabled him to get a British visa, reports the Telegraph. But the teen, then 18, had a plan of her own. She alerted a boyfriend her parents were unaware she had back in the UK to her situation using WhatsApp. The boyfriend went to the West Yorkshire police, and the girl and her sister also reached out to the British High Commission and communicated her location using screenshots of the phone's location settings, per a police press release.

British officials in Bangladesh worked with local authorities to rescue her and bring her back to the UK. The court heard testimony that the father had threatened to slit the teen's throat and "chop her up" if she refused the marriage, per the Telegraph. Though the BBC reports authorities intervened days before the wedding was to occur, her parents were arrested and after a three-week trial found guilty of forced marriage and one count of using violence or coercion to force a marriage. They will be sentenced June 18 and could face considerable time in prison. The boyfriend, meanwhile, is being hailed as a hero and a bit of a prince charming to boot. "You will be OK princess," he wrote to her during the ordeal. "You will be home safe and in my arms and I am never going to let you go again." (Read more forced marriage stories.)

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