For most young people, turning 18 is one of the most significant moments and one to celebrate.
But for one school girl from Nottinghamshire, this was set to be the darkest day of her life.
The girl, aged 17 at the time, had been told by her parents that she would be forced into marrying a man nearly twice her age on the day she turned 18.
The teenager, who wants to remain anonymous, was to have no say over whom she was to spend the rest of her life with, let alone knowing if she had anything in common with this man ahead of marrying him.
The expectation of her family was that the girl would marry this man and be forced into having children with him – no questions asked.
Luckily for this 17-year-old, help was at hand after she was able to tell teachers at her school what was intended for her.
That was when Nottinghamshire Police stepped in to support her.
The force’s dedicated honour-based abuse team attended her school alongside social care colleagues, and she disclosed to them that her parents had returned from Pakistan and arranged for her to marry a 30-year-old man.
The teen had been diagnosed with autism, making it difficult for her to express herself with strangers.
However, she eventually disclosed to police hat her parents had arranged a marriage for her 18th birthday.
The marriage was to a man who she had never met, who was a relative of her father.
Her nightmare ordeal was finally over late in 2018 when a court order was served on both her parents and the teenager was taken into care due to the risk of harm she faced.
Charity The Halo Project, which supports victims of forced marriages, also warned at the start of lockdown that these sort of crimes could increase during the pandemic.
Charities pointed to an increase in victims reaching out to them and warned that parents could now be planning to take children abroad for weddings against their will – as soon as laws on self-isolation for 14 days on return to Britain are scrapped.
Halo Project founder Yasmin Khan echoed the concerns, describing forced marriage as “disguising a multitude of harms” and something that can be arranged “extremely quickly.”
She said there had been a 63 per cent rise in referrals to the charity between March and May, adding that school closures had exacerbated the situation.