Big Questions: Jasvinder Sanghera CBE on Forced Marriage, Freedom and Karma Nirvana, Rights Info, 5th May 2018

Wednesday, May 9th, 2018

We talk to best-selling author and campaigner Jasvinder Sanghera about leaving school at 15, fleeing a forced marriage, and founding her award-winning charity Karma Nirvana.

Jasvinder Sanghera CBE is a best-selling author, campaigner, and survivor of forced marriage. Twenty-five years ago, she founded Karma Nirvana, a national award-winning charity aimed at supporting victims of honour-based abuse and forced marriage. In 2011, Jasvinder was named in the Guardian’s list of Top 100 Inspirational Women in the World, a few years after her memoir Shame became a Top 10 Sunday Times best-seller. Shame was described in Parliament as a “political weapon,” and influenced the enactment of the Forced Marriage Act. But, for Jasvinder, becoming a best-selling author was never something she envisaged.

“Writing wasn’t something I set out to do, it found me,” Jasvinder tells me. “I left school at 15 because my parents took me out of education and held me prisoner at home so that I would honour their promise of marrying a stranger in India. I said ‘yes,’ purely to plan my escape. I ran away from home at the age of 16 with no education what-so-ever. I didn’t read a book until I was 27. So to go from no education to reading to writing three books, one being a best seller is quite something to get your head around”.

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