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Arts/Society Shame Travels: Jasvinder Sanghera's Journey Of Reconciliation


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
asvinder's Story: Shame Travels
Next on:

Next Friday, 19:30 on BBC One (East Midlands, North East & Cumbria, Yorks & Lincs only)
Episode image for Jasvinder's Story: Shame Travels

Jasvinder Sanghera ran away from home when she was sixteen to escape marrying a man she'd never met. It led her mother to declare that she was dead to her.

Jasvinder has become a leading campaigner against forced marriage and has written two best-selling books about her troubled life. Jasvinder is now desperate for reconciliation.

In a journey fraught with difficulty and personal risk, she travels to India to try to find a sister her family banned her from meeting.
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Jasvinder Sanghera’s Journey of Reconciliation

Shame Travels is the story of one woman’s desperate attempt to contact a sister she was not allowed to meet because she dishonoured her family.

Jasvinder Sanghera fled from her home in Derby to Newcastle-upon-Tyne to escape being sent to India to marry a much older man who she had only ever seen in a photograph.

Her refusal to marry, aged just 16, led her mother to say she was "dead to her".

Jasvinder is today the Founder/Director of Karma Nirvana - the charity that helps young British women to escape forced marriage. She is also the writer of two bestselling books: Shame and Daughters of Shame which chronicle her life-story and those of other women suffering similar experiences.

The documentary follows Jasvinder’s final attempt at reconciliation with her family.

Her father had told her that she could never go to India as she had dishonoured the family and that "shame travels".

In India, Jasvinder travels to the Punjab with only an old photograph of her sister and the name of her father’s village.

Once there, she sees the land and discovers areas that her father used to talk about. Despite his rejection of her, she says it makes her feel close to him again.

Jasvinder told the BBC that thousands of British women are sent to India and Pakistan for marriage each year against their will, and believes it is a scam for their spouses to gain UK passports.

She visits a refuge for young women who have been rescued from forced marriages by the Foreign Office and also meets a couple whose lives are in danger because they married for love.

In her father’s village, Jasvinder discovers her aunt who tells her that her sister Bachanu (pronounced Bugenol) died six years ago. It’s a bitter blow for Jasvinder – but she’s not convinced her aunt is telling the truth.

"I really wanted to meet her and tell her who I was," says Jasvinder.

"I doubt she knew who I was because these people said my family never spoke about me."

Before she leaves the village she meets an old school friend of her father’s and realises that he, like many others in India, see Britain as a destination point for their children - a place where they can have better lives.

Jasvinder goes on to visit The Golden Temple in Amritsar, Sikhism’s holiest shrine, and a place her mother used to regularly visit.

Here, Jasvinder explains that her mother would use the Sikh religion to justify her actions, including her decision to send her daughters to India to marry.

At the temple, a Sikh elder validates Jasvinder’s work in Britain, and re-assures her that marriage against the will of an individual is not supported by the religion.

"This is man-made oppression like any form of abuse," she says.

And the final part of the journey provides a dramatic climax to Jasvinder's story.



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