Court order protects girl from purported forced marriage, but police refuse to enforce it
A 15-year-old girl who feared being sent to India for a forced marriage secured protection in court – but police are refusing to serve and enforce the court order.
The girl, born in the United States and a U.S. citizen, has resided in Naperville with her parents for the last eight years. According to court documents, the parents planned to send the girl to India for a forced marriage, and had purchased a one-way plane ticket for her for May 30.
Under Illinois law, any adult who believes a child is in danger of abuse can file for an order of protection on behalf of the child. In this case, the father of one of the girl’s classmates retained the Law Offices of Jeffery M. Leving Ltd. in Chicago to advocate for the girl.
On Friday, May 27, after a hearing before DuPage County Judge Demetrios N. Panoushis in Wheaton, the court granted an order of protection which orders the girl not to be removed from Illinois, and for her parents to have no in-person contact with her until further order of the court. The order allows the classmate’s home as a place to which the girl can be moved.
As of noon Saturday, Naperville Police have apparently refused to enforce the order of protection, and allowed the girl to be returned to her parents’ home, in contravention of the order.
Attorney Jeffery M. Leving, founder and president of the firm, urges the Naperville Police to act immediately to serve and enforce the court order.
“I worry that this could be human trafficking, if this teenage girl is shipped out of the country in exchange for money,” Leving attorney Andrey B. Filipowicz said. “I fear this girl is in imminent danger.”
According to the Tahirih Justice Center, a recognized authority on matters of this nature, domestic violence, child marriage and rape are common in India. Girls who resist forced marriage face dire consequences: In 2012, there were over 8,000 reported dowry-related deaths, mainly of brides at the hands of their in-laws.
“This girl is a high school student in Illinois who has aspirations of attending college and medical school, and becoming a doctor,” Leving says. “She was three days from being put on a plane to India. We won protection for her in court, but this girl desperately needs police to step up and serve and enforce the court order.”
To the press: Attorneys Leving and Filipowicz (fil-uh-POVE-itch) are available for interviews with print, online, radio and TV news outlets. Filipowicz also speaks Spanish.
Jeffery M. Leving is the author of Fathers’ Rights, Divorce Wars and How to be a Good Divorced Dad, the latter of which was endorsed by President Obama and by Cardinal Francis E. George, then the archbishop of Chicago.
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