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British lawyers were this weekend working frantically to rescue a London doctor who has been beaten and held captive in Bangladesh in an attempt to force her into marriage. Dr Humayra Abedin, known as Dorothy to her friends, this weekend faces being forced to marry a complete stranger, unless efforts by lawyers to free her, using new powers, succeed.

Dr Abedin is being held hostage by her family in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, where she is thought to have been gagged, bound and violently beaten to get her to comply with her parents' wishes. The 33-year-old trainee GP is depressed, suicidal and without hope, according to an email she managed to send to a close friend last Friday. This is the first time friends have heard from Dr Abedin for more than three months.

Her parents and uncle were yesterday served with a Forced Marriage Order issued by the British High Court on Friday. Dr Abedin, who has worked as a doctor in the Britain since 2002, is among the first cases to be heard under the Forced Marriage Act which came into force on 25 November. The move came after the family ignored orders from the Bangladeshi high court to bring Dr Abedin to court.

The new legislation allows judges to issue protection orders to prevent forced marriage and help to rescue victims who have already been married off. Those convicted of forcing people into marriage can be jailed for up to two years.


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