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(Family Division; Parker J; 20 October 2008)
The woman applied for a decree of nullity, on the basis that her consent to her second marriage had been obtained under duress. The woman's first marriage had been a valid arranged marriage with a man who subsequently proved to be a drug user with a history of criminal activity. The woman became part of his family; her father-in-law was head of the household. During her husband's 4-year sentence for robbery, the woman worked in the home of her in-laws, and the money she earned as a bus driver was an important source of income for the family. Shortly after his release, the husband was killed in a road traffic accident. The court heard oral evidence from the woman, in which she described the father-in-law drugging her, confining her and threatening her, in the build up to a marriage to one of his nephews to which she had not consented. The father-in-law wished to retain the woman's income and work within the family, and to obtain leave to remain in the UK for his nephew. Eventually the woman ran away to escape the marriage, and she was now living at a secret address, protected by an injunction against her in-laws.
Oral evidence had been taken of a more than cursory kind in order to satisfy the court that the woman was telling the truth. The court was quite satisfied that the woman had not given valid consent to the marriage, that she had been threatened and drugged, and left alone in a room that she was not allowed to leave. The decree of nullity was pronounced; the nephew had in any event withdrawn his opposition to the nullity application at the last minute.
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