UK Scores Of Forced Marriages Are Kent's "Secret Shame" Claims Campaigner

Discussion in 'Breaking News' started by spnadmin, Jun 26, 2011.

  1. spnadmin

    spnadmin 1947-2014 (Archived) SPNer Supporter

    Jun 17, 2004
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    Scores of forced marriages are Kent's "secret shame" claims campaigner

    Hundreds of victims of forced marriages are suffering in silence in Kent, according to a charity dedicated to exposing the county’s "secret shame".

    The Karma Nirvana organisation has reported a 52 per cent increase in calls from Kent in the last year but says there are likely to be many more young people – mainly those from Pakistani Muslim and Indian Sikh families – who are too afraid to come forward.

    Co-founder Jasvinder Sanghera, who was disowned by her parents after refusing an arranged marriage 29 years ago, told KoS the problem results in countless suicides and at least 12 "honour killings" nationally every year.

    She added: "What we know about forced marriage is that it’s under-reported and a hidden crime. In Kent there will be many hundreds of victims, and they could be anywhere.

    "It’s not just areas where there are large Asian populations like Gravesend, where these crimes are likely to be going on. That’s why more work needs to be done to identify victims living in other towns where the population is not so large."

    Karma Nirvana’s helpline takes about 5,000 calls a year, with the majority of callers aged 12-21 but the youngest just eight.

    In addition to south Asian communities, forced marriage is also a problem – albeit to a lesser extent – among Kurdish, Iranian, Afghan and Somalian families.

    In many cases marriages are arranged before a child reaches the age of consent, with some children even promised to other families at birth.

    But even when marriages are arranged legally, Ms Sanghera says, participants should be allowed to decline without fear of reprisal.

    She said: "The community network among people who practice arranged marriages is often strong, and word quickly gets out if something goes wrong.

    "Another problem is that many people are prevented from integrating because British society is regarded as a threat to their culture.

    "Multiculturalism is a myth as far as these people are concerned, but sadly some professionals turn a blind eye to what’s going on because they see it as a cultural problem. But it’s not a cultural problem – it’s abuse."

    This week Ms Sanghera and other survivors held a discussion at Kent Police headquarters in Maidstone, where they spoke to professionals from the force, domestic violence teams, child protection bodies, health workers, schools, social workers and charities.

    Saima (not real name) spoke at the roadshow, revealing how she was tricked into visiting Pakistan on holiday only to be kidnapped and wed to an abusive husband.

    She fell pregnant and returned to the UK in secret but lost her baby when she was stabbed by a hitman hired by her family.

    Saima said: "I think they thought I had brought shame on them and brought dishonour on the family.

    "I remember talking to my mum and telling her everything he had done to me and every way he abused me. I was crying. But she told me: ‘He’s your husband. Even if he kills you we don’t care because you’re no longer our property’."

    For more information call the Karma Nirvana Honour Network Helpline on 0800 5 999 247 or visit
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  3. Mai Harinder Kaur

    Mai Harinder Kaur Mentor Writer SPNer

    Oct 6, 2006
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    I was going to let this one passs until I got to that last phrase of the last sentence.

    "I remember talking to my mum and telling her everything he had done to me and every way he abused me. I was crying. But she told me: ‘He’s your husband. Even if he kills you we don’t care because you’re no longer our property’."

    Unless the laws abolishing slavery in Britain have been repealed, she was never their property.

    This article shows yet another danger in the Sikh community's insular ways. Enough already!

    (I'm beginning to find my Dad's progressive ideas (although found in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji ji) more and more remarkable. I am a very blessed woman. It could have been so very different...)
    • Like Like x 2
  4. Ishna

    Ishna Enthusiast Writer SPNer

    May 9, 2006
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    From what I've learned, there is a difference between arranged marriage and forced marriage. From my understanding, arranged marriages if done properly give both the male and female partners chance to decline. A forced marriage doesn't offer that -- you are married whether you like it or not.

    I think there distinction needs to be made clear that the article is talking about forced marriages.

    As for the comment by the mother about the daughter not being their property anymore, I can't help but hear a cry of anguish in the words because surely no mother could bear to hear about her daughter suffering abuse and "not care". I think her words are more to pacify herself to deal with the guilt and helplessness of the situation. I could be wrong. I tend to see the world as populated by well-wishers and goody-two-shoes... but surely maternal instinct comes in somewhere??

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