The first time Shazia Qayum met her husband was on their wedding day.

Duped by her parents into visiting the poor, pious, hilly district of Mirpur in Pakistani-administered Kashmir, she arrived to a village abuzz with preparations for her wedding – a ceremony she knew nothing about.

Seventeen years old, she had already refused to marry her first cousin two years earlier – an act of defiance that resulted in her being withdrawn from school by her parents.

"I couldn't believe they had brought me from Birmingham to Pakistan on such a huge lie," she says. "It crushed me."

That was more than decade ago, but government figures released today suggest the true scale of Britain's forced-marriage problem is only now beginning to emerge. It is estimated that between 5,000 and 8,000 cases of forced marriage occurred in Britain last year, according to the Department for Children, Schools, and Families.

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