Brit Indian says that forced marriage led to her sister’s suicide

November 14th, 2007 - 2:49 am ICT by admin  
Jasvinder Sanghera said her sister Robina was driven to suicide after she was told that she could not leave her husband because her family would be ashamed.

When her sister killed herself, Sanghera was on the run from home because she had refused to marry a man her parents had lined up for her from the age of eight.

She told the EU Forced Marriages Conference in central London that she still held her parents accountable for the death of Robina.

She was taken out of school at the age of 15, forced to marry, and then had to move to Germany with her husband.

But at the age of 24 she sought help, Ms Sanghera said. She told delegates at Lancaster House: “She suffered horrific abuse in her marriage - physical, mental abuse.

“I begged her to leave her partner, but she said to me: ‘It’s OK for you to say that but you don’t have the authority because you are disowned,” The Telegraph quoted Jasvinder, as saying.

“She was right. The people who could make the difference were my parents, family and community leaders. That’s where she went and they sent her back, saying she should make the marriage work.

“Was she driven to commit suicide? I would say so. She set herself on fire and suffered 80 per cent burns. I still hold people accountable for her death.”

Ms Sanghera, 42, whose family is originally from the Punjab in India, told the conference that South Asian women in Britain had a suicide rate two to three times above average.

She said statistics showed there were now 12 so-called “honour killings” every year.

Her own family disowned her after she refused to marry the man they chose and she ran away from home.

She said: “I rang my mother and the response I never expected to hear is the response hundreds of girls are hearing today. That was to tell me that I was the perpetrator. In their eyes I was dead.”

Her younger sister then had to marry the man chosen for her so the agreement was honoured, Sanghera said.

She has since married and divorced twice and has three children. But her family still crosses the road to avoid her.

Sanghera now directs the Karma Nirvana support group, which helps young men and women in similar situations. (ANI)

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