British teenager forced to marry cousin at gunpoint in Pakistan

Khan's cousin who was six years older, kept her captive for three years and raped her every night. PHOTO: REUTERS

Khan's cousin who was six years older, kept her captive for three years and raped her every night. PHOTO: REUTERS

A British teenager claimed she was forced at gunpoint in Pakistan to marry her cousin, who raped her everyday for three years.

Tasbassan Khan* alleged she was 15 when her aunt told her she was going on a summer holiday to Pakistan. Khan’s father had murdered her mother when she was 12, leaving her and three brothers in the care of their aunt in Doncaster, South Yorkshire.

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On arriving in Pakistan, Khan claimed she was forced at gunpoint to marry her cousin, who was six years older and held her captive for three years, raping her every night. Khan later discovered she was forced into the marriage so her cousin could get a visa to come to Britain.

Now 26, 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.”

“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.

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After three years of torture, Khan was granted a divorce by a local Pakistani court and returned to the UK in 2008. The 26-year-old is now working with schools in collaboration with the organisation It’s My Right: No Forced Marriages, to fight the issue of forced marriages.

Recalling her story, Khan stated, “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.”

She has also urged the British government to take action to protect girls who are sent abroad and later 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.”

Khan further claimed that her brothers too, failed to support her. “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. “

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“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,” Khan added.

*Name changed to protect victim’s identity

This article originally appeared on Express.

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