A young woman was rescued mere seconds before a flight taking her to an unwanted arranged marriage was set to depart, police said on Monday.
Authorities at Düsseldorf airport in western Germany were tipped off by staff at a local girls’ refuge that a young woman would be departing for Sri Lanka with her parents and siblings on Friday evening. Her family intended to marry her off against her will in the south Asian country.
Read more: Forced marriage ‘is not culture, it’s abuse’
It was arranged that the 21-year-old German citizen should make herself known to authorities while in the airport building. Her nerves apparently stopped her from alerting herself to police. She duly boarded the plane with the five members of her family.
Police officer noticed something wrong
The plane would have departed with her aboard, were it not for one police officer at the gate who noticed something amiss. Seeing the young woman was scared, the officer entered the plane and spoke to the pilot.
They then located the woman and asked if she needed help.
The “nervous” young woman then told the officer and the pilot that she was being flown to Sri Lanka to marry an unknown man against her will.
The woman, who has not been named, left the airplane of her own free will and was taken to a women’s safe house by authorities. Police did not say whether her family flew onto Sri Lanka without her.
Forced marriage within Germany is rare, put there have been several cases in recent years of women being forced out of the country to marry against their will.