ESCAPING A FORCED MARRIAGE
|Jasvinder sees the reality of forced marriages in India and Pakistan
The tradition of forced marriages is becoming a growing
threat for many British women of South Asian origin. Inside Out follow a Derby
woman who escaped a forced marriage as she travels to India for the first time.
Jasvinder Sanghera arrives to the country she would once have called
home had she not escaped a forced marriage.
Her parents left India in the
fifties and even though Jasvinder was born in Derby, her parents wanted her, like
all their daughters, to marry an Indian man.
Her seven sisters all went
through with their arranged marriages, three of them travelled to India at the
age of 16 and 17.
When Jasvinder was 15 and in her final year of school,
her parents showed her a photo of man, saying that was the man she would marry
within two weeks.
Jasvinder refused, but her parents continued to plan the
wedding. Her family kept Jasvinder locked in the bedroom, until one day, she ran
"I saw a window of opportunity. The door was open and I just
ran out the front door."
Disowned by her parents
her escape, Jasvinder spent her teens sleeping rough on the streets. She pleaded
with her parents to let her return home, but they said that in their eyes "she
stands outside the house she escaped from|
"In the community's
eyes and in my family's eyes, because I had done something dishonourable to them,
I am a woman that has no honour. I do. I have self-respect."
families living in the UK still live very much by Indian traditions and practices.
The impact on British Asian women is something Jasvinder sees every day
in her work with the Karma Nirvana refuge in Derby.
here (in India) impacts on us in England. We see women fleeing forced marriages.
"We see women feeling suicidal, self-harming because of issues of
honour and shame."
Because of these pressures, few women have the strength
to stand up against the forced marriages in the way that Jasvinder did.
a forced marriage, this young woman has gone into hiding from her family|
is one of the women who did contact Jasvinder.
Her parents took her to Pakistan
for what Yasmin was told to be a family holiday.
Waiting in Pakistan was
the man Yasmin's parents had planned for her to marry.
"I was scared,
frightened. My parents told me I had no choice. They took my passport off me and
said, "you'll stay here forever until you do this". So I went through
with the wedding."
This happened four years ago when Yasmin was 17
years old. She is now divorced and living in a refuge where her parents won't
be able to find her.
Knowing where to turn to
to turn to: contacts |
24 hour National Domestic
Violence Freephone Helpline (in partnership with Refuge and Women's Aid)
Contact your local Police station in an emergency.
Community Liaison Unit, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
0207 008 0230
0207 270 1500)
Consular Section, British High Commission
Tel: 011 2687 2161
Karma Nirvana in Derby
The majority of forced marriages take place
in Pakistan, but it is the British High Commission in India that have seen a doubling
of cases in the last five years.
Jasvinder meets up with them to discuss
ways how to reach more women.
Susan Wilson is the vice-consul at the British
High Commission in India and meets more and more British women forced into marriages
"So many people have said to us "I didn't know I could
come to the British High Commission", which makes me think there must be
many more cases we can help.
"If the number of cases increases, we
have been given the resources to expand to include a shelter here where the women
Working with crimes against women, the Dehli police force
hosts a small team of officers that respond to complaints of sexual abuse, domestic
violence and attempted murder.
Indian police force tend to make excuses for domestic abuse|
a small operation, one small unit covers the whole of the city.
follows the team as they respond to a call they got two hours earlier.
burned woman is taken to hospital by her mother-in-law. It's not sure whether
it is a domestic abuse case or not.
After having met the woman, Inspector
Veera Shama says that the woman's dress caught fire when she was preparing milk.
"Sometimes there's some domestic violence. Some are accidental like
this. It was not pre-planned"
don't know why she feels the need to defend how strong her marriage is to us -
for me that just rings alarm bells."|
Jasvinder has her doubts, refusing to believe the
authorities are doing their best to protect this woman and with whether this woman
really will be able to tell the truth in front of her mother-in-law.
kind of refuge - completely different aims
Jasvinder concludes her visit
in Indian with a visit to a refuge, which reminds her about the work Karma Nirvana
does back home in Derby.
Indian women are beading necklaces as part of their stay in the refuge|
women here go through the same experiences as the Asian women back in the UK,
they worry about the same issues, have the same fears about domestic abuse and
exclusion from the community.
But the advice given to the women here in
India is very different from the Derby refuge.
The women in India are taught
skills to help them find work and rebuild their lives, although they are also
encouraged to reconcile with their families rather than strive for independence.
Jasvinder is surprised to hear the advice given. But she is also aware
of the cultural differences between India and the UK.
my eyes on another level because the women here are second-class citizens, same
as the Asian women I see in England.
"But in England, I would say
we are scratching the surface and it's far worse because we don't actually see
it. The difference here, I can see it visibly."