Barking empowerment roadshow raises awareness of forced marriage
- Credit: Archant
A nationwide charity helping victims of forced marriages and honour-based violence has called on Barking and Dagenham to work together and educate residents to help protect women.
Campaigner Jasvinder Sanghera, who set up Karma Nirvana after fleeing her own family, spoke to councillors, charity workers and other forced-marriage survivors at a Women’s Empowerment roadshow on Wednesday at the Barking Learning Centre, in the town square.
Met figures show 216 domestic crimes were reported in the borough in the 12 months leading up to March, including three cases of forced marriage and two cases of honour-based violence.
The charity provides help and guidance for victims, both male and female, while raising awareness of the issue.
Only one person called the charity’s helpline since 2014 and Ms Sanghera insists that is why the location was chosen.
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“People in Barking and Dagenham don’t know about the national support available to them,” she said. “It’s appalling they don’t know we exist.
“Only one person called us but we all know domestic violence still exists in the area.
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“That’s why we’ve come to Barking, to help let victims know what support is available.”
A 34-year-old woman, who asked to remain anonymous, fled her family in Bradford 20 years ago and now works with the charity in Barking and Dagenham and across the capital.
“I came home from school one day when I was 13 and was told I was going to marry to marry this man,” she said.
“I told my mum I didn’t want to and she took me out of school.
“Eventually I ran away to London.When I phoned my dad he said he was going to kill me.”
Cllr Sade Bright was appointed at the borough’s first ever cabinet member for equalities and cohesion last month and insist the council will do all it can.
“The prevention of domestic and sexual violence is a priority for us here in Barking and Dagenham,” she said.
“Barking and Dagenham has the highest rate of domestic violence in London but what are we going to do about it? We have to work together.”