Leeds charity supporting victims of forced marriage praised by MP for life-saving work

Jasvinder Sanghera from Karma Nirvana.

Jasvinder Sanghera from Karma Nirvana.

A LEEDS-based charity supporting victims of honour-based violence and forced marriage has been praised by a Government minister.

Karen Bradley, minister for preventing abuse, exploitation and crime, came to Leeds yesterday to visit Karma Nirvana and learn about its life-saving work.

The charity’s helpline has received 50,000 calls from across the UK since 2008.

She said: “I am sure it would shock people if they knew the true size of the problem.

“It’s a problem across the country.

“It’s not about arranged marriages where the people involved are wanting to be wed. It’s about people being forced to marry against their will.

“This is a crime that we need to raise awareness of.

“We need police, agencies, and Government departments to work on this – and work together to put this higher on the agenda.”

She added: “We want both women and men to live the life that they deserve, and in these situations these young people are not being allowed to exercise those rights.

“There is a long way to go but the work that Karma Nirvana is doing is incredibly important.”

Jasvinder Sanghera set up the Karma Nirvana charity after she was a victim of forced marriage and honour abuse.

Speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post, Jasvinder said: “We want to help increase the number of people reporting incidents of forced marriage and honour-based violence, reduce isolation and ultimately save lives.

“We need to raise awareness in Leeds.

“There are a lot of people who don’t know that it is a crime, that it’s wrong.”

Karma Nirvana was set up in 1993 and supports women, men and couples affected by honour-based violence and forced marriage.

*For support, call the helpline on 0800 599 9247 or visit www.karmanirvana.org.uk.