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Woman jailed for breaching forced marriage order

21 February 2011

A Nigerian woman has become the first person to be jailed for breaking a forced marriage order.

Lydia Erhire refused to sign documents allowing for the repatriation of her son after he was allegedly taken from the UK to Nigeria against his will. She was jailed for eight months by the High Court last week.

Under the Forced Marriage Act 2007, courts can confiscate passports, require details of missing people to be handed over or make other orders.

Anne-Marie Hutchinson, partner at Dawson Cornwell, acts for Lydia Erhire’s son, Edirin Onojeta-Idogun. A statement from the firm said Edirin, now aged 17, obtained a forced marriage protection order from the High Court in July last year because he feared he would be taken to Nigeria and made to marry against his will.

The statement said: “Edirin last attended school on 12 July 2010. He was removed by his mother and taken to Nigeria against his will on or about 16 July 2010.

“His mother subsequently returned to the United Kingdom on 16 October 2010, leaving Edirin in Nigeria.”

Meanwhile, the statement said Edirin was placed in a ‘safe house’ in Nigeria where he complained of being subjected to “quasi-religious ceremonies or exorcisms to purge him of his resistance to getting married”.

Edirin was also reported to have said he did not want to get married, he wanted to return ‘home’ to the UK and he had been beaten by various members of his family.

The High Court in London said Edirin’s removal was in breach of his forced marriage protection order and directed his parents to return him to England immediately. His mother was directed to sign documents to assist in his repatriation. She refused and was sentenced to eight months in prison by the High Court last week.

Hutchinson said Edirin must return to England so he can speak to the court directly. She has asked anyone with information about his whereabouts to contact her.

Categorised in:

Marriage & Civil partnership