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UK Charity Is Planning A Campaign To Help Professionals To Spot People At Risk


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
* By Emma Clayton »

A charity supporting victims of forced marriage and ‘honour-related’ violence is planning a campaign in Bradford to help professionals to spot signs of risk.

The initiative, aimed at teachers, police officers, health officials and those working in social services, youth work and housing, is organised by Karma Nirvana which runs a helpline.

Chief executive Jasvinder Sanghera was disowned by her family 30 years ago after fleeing a forced marriage. Her sister, also in a forced marriage, died after setting herself on fire at the age of 24.

Miss Sanghera, a Sikh, is working with retired police officer Philip Balmforth, who worked in Bradford to protect young women from forced marriage and ‘honour’ violence. Around 200 regional organisations have been invited to an open day at Leeds Civic Hall on Wednesday, December 15. A further event is planned for Bradford.

Miss Sanghera said: “For a district with a significant Asian population, reporting of forced marriage and ‘honour’ violence here is low. We know it goes on, and we’re concerned about those at risk – including girls under 16.

“These issues should be treated as matters of child protection, vulnerable adult protection and as crimes. We want professionals who come into contact with those affected to be more pro active. “Some have limited awareness of how to deal with this, and because they’re so careful about being culturally sensitive, they have a fear of being branded a racist if they interfere.

“People need to accept that this is happening and stop burying heads in the sand. Former Keighley Ann Cryer campaigned very bravely about this. No religion – Muslim, Sikh or Hindu – advocates forced marriage or ‘honour’ killings.”

In 2008 Karma Nirvana highlighted how thousands of children, some as young as eight, went missing from British schools.

“These young people are most at risk,” said Mr Balmforth.

Miss Sanghera added: “We aim to give professionals the confidence to tackle these issues, and go beyond their own belief and value system.

“If a teenage girl says she’s going to be sent to Pakistan, or killed, for talking to a boy, the first rule is that teachers, police or whoever she’s confiding in must believe her – even if it sounds implausible.

“She’s at risk and that risk must be eliminated.”

Karma Nirvana receives 400 calls a month.

It provides confidential listening and support, and trains professionals through seminars, conferences and workshops.

The Karma Nirvana helpline is 0800 599 9247 and the website is at karmanirvana.org.uk.



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