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Sikh News Sikh crusader against forced marriages is Pride of Britain

Discussion in 'Breaking News' started by Sikh News Reporter, Oct 8, 2009.

  1. Sikh News Reporter

    Sikh News Reporter United States
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    London, Oct 7 (IANS) A Sikh woman whose campaign helped persuade the British government to move against forced marriages has won a prestigious award that celebrates “extraordinary achievements by ordinary people”.
    Jasvinder Sanghera, who runs a charity that works to free people from forced marriages, was presented the Pride of Britain Award at a gala ceremony Tuesday night attended by a host of celebrities.

    Sanghera is a survivor of a violent attempt to push her into a forced marriage by her parents, who came to Britain from Punjab in the 1950s.
    She founded the charity Karma Nirvana in the city of Derby in 1993 to help victims of forced marriages and honour-violence after her older sister Robina committed suicide in 1983 to escape a forced marriage.


    Sanghera was instrumental in galvanizing British politicians to move against forced marriages - the British foreign ministry now has a Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) which receives around 5,000 calls a year from victims, according to a spokeswoman at Karma Nirvana.


    Some 65 percent of the cases FMU deals with are Pakistani Muslims, 30 percent are minors and 15 percent are boys or men. Every year, the FMU helps bring back to Britain around 400 people trapped in forced marriages overseas, she said.


    Karma Nirvana, which today runs a network of shelters in east-central Britain, deals with around 400 callers every month on its helpline, the youngest being a 10-year-old girl in the city of Leicester.
    “Jasvinder herself is looking after the case of an 11-year-old girl at the moment in the northeast of England,” the spokeswoman added.


    The charity is in the process of setting up its first South Asian male refuge for victims of forced marriage and honour-based violence.


    Force marriages are not only a violation of human rights, but are also linked closely to rape, imprisonment and honour-based or ‘Izzat’ violence, including killings.


    Although Pakistanis constitute the majority of forced marriage cases, British police have also dealt with cases from Turkish, Iranian, Romany, Bosnian, Kosovan and west African communities.


    The opposition Conservative Party has pledged to ban forced marriages if elected to power at the next general elections due by June 3, 2010.
     
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