Sheena Hastings reports. After five of her sisters had already been married off to men they had not chosen, Jasvinder refused to follow the same path. When she resisted marrying a man in India she had only seen in a photo, she was incarcerated for weeks but managed to flee the family home. Six weeks after the year-old had disappeared, she heard that her sister Robina had committed suicide to escape the abusive marriage she had willingly entered into. When she could bear no further beating, Robina had poured paraffin over herself and lit a match. Even this tragedy did nothing to heal the rift with Jasvinder.
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Jasvinder Sanghera CBE is a best-selling author, campaigner, and survivor of forced marriage. But, for Jasvinder, becoming a best-selling author was never something she envisaged. I ran away from home at the age of 16 with no education what-so-ever. Despite her achievements, Jasvinder recognises that much remains to be done. What led to the creation of Karma Nirvana? Really, it was the death of my older sister Robina.
Robina was taken out of school and force-married at She suffered a horrific marriage. After someone told me, I rang home. My mother told me my sister had committed suicide. She told me it was better for my sister to have taken her life than to dishonour her family and divorce her husband.
I remember thinking that maybe my mother, losing her child in such a horrific way, will now open her arms and take me into her world. It would be the belief and value system that I go back to my father for. He came to England in the late s.
For anybody, leaving their home country to come to an alien country takes courage. Growing up, my parents would face racism, but my dad told me not to respond. I was shocked.
How did your formal education shape you? When I went to do my A-Levels, and then into university at Derby, it was a whole new world and it shaped me. What it gave me more than anything was the confidence to speak, to have a voice. This was when I divorced my second husband because he was an abuser. I finally had the courage to stand up to him.
Because I was educating myself, I was finding this voice which was becoming stronger and stronger and it made me feel more empowered. Jasvinder Sanghera I completed a degree in Social and Cultural Studies which enabled me to look into further areas I was interested in.
I was raising children as well. I went into University with very little self-esteem. So the experience definitively gave me confidence. It made me believe in myself. It was something I had to fight for. What do you fear the most in terms of human rights for the next generation? Their voice is a valuable resource for effecting change. They are part of the solution, regardless of where they come from.
Image Credit: Jasvindersanghera. Freedom and independence. I truly am free in both regards now and that has taken a long time. What does ambition mean to you? It means being driven. It means giving up some things to achieve that outcome but having that balance as well. Ambition, for me, is about self-belief but equally about being genuine. It would be the birth of my first daughter Natasha. My family were not talking to me. I was severely depressed and missing my family terribly.
She gave me so much hope. Her birth, that memory and that time, really lifted my spirit. It will always stay with me.
Image Credit: Jasvinder Sanghera How are you trying to change the world and impact human rights? Change in the world is about giving back Jasvinder Sanghera I do it by caring, I do it through the work of Karma Nirvana. In the first seven years, I did Karma Nirvana in a totally voluntary capacity.
That was about giving. For me, change in the world is about giving back. It can even be as simple as recycling, which is what I do. Anything to contribute to your environment. I give through sharing my story because I know by telling that story others will be impacted. But also, that they will speak to people who have been through and come out of the other end.
Also, campaigning! For me, it becomes more and more important to recognise that you have a contribution to make as an individual, as a parent. Where you sit in old age will say a lot about what you did in your youth. Share this.
Jasvinder Sanghera CBE is a best-selling author, campaigner, and survivor of forced marriage. But, for Jasvinder, becoming a best-selling author was never something she envisaged. I ran away from home at the age of 16 with no education what-so-ever. Despite her achievements, Jasvinder recognises that much remains to be done.
Big Questions: Jasvinder Sanghera CBE on Forced Marriage, Freedom and Karma Nirvana
Even so, we all did our best to support her in very difficult circumstances. Documents show that one aspect of her illness was a tendency to pick fights with family members, sometimes making false allegations they were trying to steal her money. The papers also reveal Jo kept in touch with the mental health professionals who treated her. She had a strong, independent personality which caused her on occasions to fall out with and relinquish contact with both family and friends. Court documents show he clearly believed she was adopted. At this stage, Jo had only just discovered her mother was dead and had no idea there would be an inquest. When she learnt one was pending, she contacted Prof Marks, who ordered her to appear with her birth certificate to prove that Gentle was her mother.
How Jasvinder fled a forced marriage but found her family again in India
Biography[ edit ] Jasvinder Sanghera was born and brought up in Derby , England, to a Sikh family that had emigrated from India. As a teenager, she refused a forced marriage and ran away from home. Her sister Robina suffered an abusive marriage culminating in her suicide by setting herself on fire. In , Sanghera founded Karma Nirvana, a charity that supports people affected by abuse and forced marriages. She established the first UK helpline to support victims, survivors and professionals affected by forced marriages and honour crimes.