Rukhsana (not her real name) is a very skinny and gaunt looking teen who looks older than her 18 years, with bleached brown hair, wearing grey contact lenses.

"I ran away from home when I was 16 with my boyfriend. I thought It was love." She mumbles ashamed.

"He was older than me, a 23-year-old taxi driver. I had known him for two years, I used to skive off school and meet him on the sly."

"The reason I ran away was because my family wanted me to marry a cousin abroad straight after I finished high school."

Rukhsana was aware at a young age that her fate had been sealed. Her parents were unwilling to compromise in any way. As a good Muslim daughter she was expected to obey and marry.

Frustrated and helpless and with no-one to confide in or turn to for advice she missed her GCSE exams and chose to run.

With an older boyfriend who promised to look after her, a future together seemed possible. The fantasy seemed for real, young and nave R.K knew no better. Stealing a few hundred pounds from her family and taking a bag of clothes with her, off she went.

"I'll never forget that morning. I was so scared. I thought I'd get caught. I left the house quietly at five in the morning and met my man.

"We went and stayed at his mate's flat in Manchester. It was good at first. I felt I had escaped and I was lucky to be with the perfect person.

"But five days later my man found out his family had received death threats and his family house had been attacked. He tried to take me back to my parents after that. But when I wouldn't go back, he beat me. Then I ran from him."

Betrayed, alone and petrified and with nobody to turn to she went to a refuge for women.

After wondering around homeless for two months, staying with a random group of Asian youngsters she had met, Rukhsana was finally tracked down by her family and taken home.

She admitted defeat. After weeks of being used and abused she was grateful her family had tracked her down.

What she had thought was love had been mere lust, excitement.

The thrill of seeing an older man behind her parents back. The danger is what attracted and spurred Ruksahna to run. Now she is stigmatized and a fresh start seems impossible.

"When I got home no-one was happy to see me. All I got was disgusted looks and more abuse and beatings. My family still treats me like rubbish for shaming them.

"I was flown straight to Pakistan and married. They all know my story. I was told that I'm lucky that he would marry me because I'm used goods. People still gossip about me where I live and most don't talk to me."

Rukhsana returned to England married and pregnant at the age of 16. She later had a miscarriage. Two years on Ruksana is unhappy and regrets running away, she now works in retail and is seeing another man secretly but as a married woman now.

"I don't know what to do, I'm beaten and threatened all the time, and my life is ruined. Maybe if I had someone who understood my problem I wouldn't be like this"

One common thread in Ruksana's story was the need for help.

Many who runaway end up returning home defeated and subdued only to be worse off than before and forced to marry.

These cases are more often than not ignored, dismissed and swept under the carpet.

A report in 2002 by the Children's society said Asian runaways are at more risk of violence and abuse on the streets than others who run away because support services do not understand them.

The report No One's Asked Us Before looked exclusively at the experience of 37 Asian girls and young women, some of whom had run away in Manchester.

The report called for among other things, key services, such as the Police and Social Services, to have professional training on cultural awareness that extends beyond the stereotypes of Asian communities There is also a need for more skilled Asian workers in key agencies, such as the Police and Social Services, who can understand and address the cultural needs of Asian runaways.

Four years on teens like Rukhsana feel little has changed.

The parent and adolescent relationship, no matter what the cultural identity of the teen, has never been easy.

I found through talking to other runaways that the majority of Asian girls choose to run away because of physical or sexual abuse, forced marriage, feeling oppressed and trapped, and lack of freedom.

And then there are those cases where young naive impressionable girls think' they are in love and long to be with that person.

It is a typical romantic Romeo and Juliet love saga, running away to be with a lover only to return home after a few months to be married off. Others are attracted to the freedom, excitement and glamour.

A common example is over-protective families who believe by locking their daughters away and keeping tabs on their whereabouts they are protecting them from the Western culture' the sex, drink and drugs.

It is true oppression leads to rebellion.

In reality life is harder for the runaway teenage if the authorities are not contacted for help.

Runaways will rarely find security and comfort becoming homeless. Some may turn to drug or alcohol abuse, others may sell themselves to make money and survive.

Above all, young Asian women need more support and guidance. Someone to turn to for advice and help.

Otherwise the future seems bleak for many young British Asian women.