«In 1981, aged 15½, I was taken out of my school in Derby and told by my parents that seven years earlier I had been promised in marriage to a man from Punjab. They showed me a photograph of him. They had not even met him themselves, but they wanted me to marry him because they knew it would give them great status to be able to get this man into Britain and gain him citizenship.
When I refused to go through with the marriage I was locked in a room. My mother told me: “unless you marry who we say, you are dead in our eyes”. Unknown to my parents I had a boyfriend, and I ran away with him to Newcastle where we slept in a car and washed in public toilets before we managed to find a bedsit.
I spent seven years in hiding and it was only when I heard that my 24-year-old sister Robina had set fire to herself rather than suffer the shame of leaving a violent arranged marriage, and had died as a result, that I returned to Derby to campaign against forced marriage. Even now my brother and surviving sisters will cross the road rather than talk to me.
I was lucky compared with many victims. When I was on the run in Newcastle I told my story to a policeman who agreed not to send me back home. Unfortunately, the police often fail to believe girls who tell them they are in danger; they are treated like stroppy teenagers who have fallen out with their parents. Tulay Goren begged to be put into a children’s home. If she had been listened to she would be alive now.»