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.