The husband in the case of a Bangladeshi doctor held captive by her parents and forced to marry against her will has said he only realized too late that his bride was against the arranged match.
Khandaker Abu Jalal, 33, said that he was the victim of a “double game” by his wife, Humayra Abedin, a doctor who lives in London, and her family, in a legal wrangle that has attracted extensive international media attention.
A Bangladeshi court last week ruled that Abedin, 32, had been wrongfully held by her parents for more than four months during a visit to Dhaka and ordered her to be freed to return to Britain, where she has lived since 2002.
Abedin said she married Jalal on Nov. 14 under duress. But Jalal, who is also a doctor, said he had no idea his new wife was unhappy about the marriage until two days after they wed.
‘SHE LIKED ME’
“We met twice alone before the wedding, once at her home and a second time at a restaurant,” he said by telephone. “I asked her whether she had a boyfriend. She is highly educated and normally girls like her have boyfriends. I got the impression she liked me.”
He said he was told after the wedding by one of his wife’s family members that Abedin had a Hindu boyfriend of Bangladeshi origin in London — which had angered her Muslim family. Jalal said this had tarnished him and his family.
“I never would have married a woman who did not like me,” he said. “Both she and her parents lied to me all the way. We have been socially disgraced. It has destroyed my life. I’m depressed and my mother has become very ill as a result of this.”
Abedin returned to Britain last week and has appealed for privacy as her lawyers in Britain move to annul the marriage.
The case began when Abedin traveled to Bangladesh in August after she was told by family members her mother was seriously ill.
She had planned to return to Britain soon after but said her family held her captive while arranging a forced marriage.
Abedin — an only child — said she had been “manhandled” into the family home and was “immediately locked in a room.”
Throughout her time there, she was “always monitored by four or five guards and was not free to leave the property” while her passport, plane tickets and other documents were confiscated, she said.
Against her will, she was injected with “what she believed to be mood stabilizers and anti-psychotic drugs” at a psychiatric clinic, she said.
She was taken to the British High Commission last Sunday before leaving Bangladesh last Monday after the Dhaka court ordered her family to return her passport.
Jalal said Abedin’s parents had told him she was mentally unwell.
“On our wedding day she looked fine. It was a simple ceremony and only a few people were invited. We were told that there would be a bigger ceremony before she and I started a new life together,” he said.
It was up to Abedin to decide whether to continue with the marriage, he said.
“We should never have been dragged into this disgraceful saga. I just want to live a peaceful life,” he said.
Arranged marriages in conservative Muslim Bangladesh are common.
The British government last month introduced the Forced Marriage Act, a law allowing courts to stop forced marriages and provide protection to British nationals who have been married against their will.
Although Abedin was freed under Bangladeshi law, a case was also lodged in the high court in London and hers was the first where the legislation had been used to help a non-British national.