Jasvinder Sanghera: I ran away to escape a forced marriage

Jasvinder Sanghera was locked in a room by her parents when she was 16, when she refused to marry the man they had chosen for her. She describes how she escaped with the help of a secret boyfriend – but lost all contact with her family as a result.

I’m one of seven sisters and there’s only one younger than me so I’d watched my sisters having to be married at very young ages – as young as 15.

They would disappear to become a wife and go to India, come back, not go back to school and then go into these marriages and be physically and psychologically abused. And my impression of marriage was that this is what happens to you – you get married, you get beaten up, and then you’re told to stay there.

My parents were Sikh and Sikhism was born on the foundation of compassion and equality of men and women, and yet here we have women who were treated very differently. My brother was allowed total freedom of expression. He was also allowed to choose who he wanted to marry. But the women were treated differently and that was reinforced within the communities. It’s gone unchallenged and it’s deeply ingrained.

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