MAKERS Profile

Jasvinder Sanghera

UK Charity Founder

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Jasvinder Sanghera talks about her childhood in Britain, how she ran away from an arranged marriage, the family tragedy that was the turning point in her life, and how she came to influence government policy at the highest level around the issue of forced marriages.
Jasvinder Sanghera CBE was born and raised in Derby in a British-Sikh family. Her father moved to the U.K. from Punjab in the 1950s and Sanghera grew up in Britain with her parents, five sisters, and one brother. Growing up, her sisters were taken out of their British schools at the age of 15 to be married off to men they had only ever seen in photographs. Sanghera was at risk of suffering the same fate as her sisters, but she was able to escape by running away from home. After having to leave school at the age of 16 she took her first A- levels at the age of 28 while pregnant with her first child.   As a survivor of a forced marriage, she founded Karma Nirvana in 1993, a national award winning charity that supports both men and women affected by honor-based abuse and forced marriages. She grew the organization from an operation run out of her home into a multinational organization that helps aid and defend men and women who are fleeing forced marriages, victims of honor-based abuse, or at risk of being the victims of an honor killing.   She is a highly acclaimed international speaker and an expert advisor to the courts. Her memoir "Shame" published in 2007 was a Times Top 10 Bestseller. She subsequently wrote two follow up books: "Daughters of Shame" published in 2009 and "Shame Travels" published in 2011.   Sanghera is recognized as bringing the issue of forced marriage into the public domain and Prime Minister David Cameron stated that her work 'turned my head on the issue of forced marriage.' Her work is recognized as being pivotal to the creation of a specific UK forced marriage criminal offense in 2014. She has received numerous awards including the prestigious Woman of the Year in 2007. She was made an Honorary Doctor of the University of Derby in 2008. She was awarded The Pride of Britain Award in 2009 and was named Cosmopolitan Ultimate Woman of the Year in 2010.   In 2011, she was listed in the Guardian top 100 Most Inspirational Women in the World. She was awarded Commander of the British Empire in 2013 in recognition of her outstanding contribution for the victims of forced marriage and honor-based abuse. Sanghera guested on Desert Island Discs in 2013 and is also listed as an entry in the 2016 edition of the book "Who's Who."