A teenager flown to Pakistan after her parents became afraid that she and her sisters would be taken into care might have been forced to marry on her 16th birthday, a High Court judge heard.
Mr Justice Hayden said he was “extremely concerned” for the welfare of Alyssa Din, from Preston, who turned 16 on Wednesday.
He was told – during a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London –how a family member had suggested that Alyssa had taken part in a marriage ceremony in Pakistan.
“I profoundly hope that this girl has not been married off against her will,” said the judge. “But I am very concerned for her welfare.”
Last month Mr Justice Hayden had said Alyssa and her sisters Safia, five, and Amani, then three but now four, were thought to have been put on a plane to Pakistan without an accompanying adult in October.
The judge had said the youngsters were thought to have flown to Karachi via Islamabad in – and their whereabouts remained unknown.
He had described the missing girls’ ordeal as ‘’alarming’’, ‘’brutal’’ and ‘’almost impossible to imagine’’.
Detail had emerged at a High Court hearing as the judge ruled that the identities of the children and their parents could be revealed in the hope that publicity might lead to the youngsters being found.
The girls’ father, Ilyas Din, and mother, Mazeley Din, are in prison for contempt of court after failing to provide information about the children’s whereabouts.
Mr Din, who is in his late 40s, was given a 12-month term and Mrs Din, who is in her 30s, a six-month sentence.
The couple, who have other children and have been together for 17 years, were jailed following a hearing in Liverpool in December.
Lawyers representing Lancashire County Council’s social services department and a court-appointed children’s guardian today updated the judge on developments.
They said a relative had raised concerns about the forced wedding and said police were investigating.
The girls’ parents appeared at the hearing via video-links from jail.
At the hearing in January Mr Din had apologised. He said he had been in contact with a relative in Pakistan and hoped that the children would soon be returned to England.
Mr Din said the children were with his sister in Pakistan and told the judge: “I just said to her just look after my children because I don’t want them going into care.”
He added: “I think she has brainwashed the children.”
Mrs Din told the court: “It is not my fault that the children have not come back yet.”