College to Tackle Forced Marriage and “Honour” Crimes
In the first of its kind programme, Derby College in the East Midlands is raising awareness and fighting back against forced marriage and so-called honour crimes.
The college is working with Karma Nirvana, a charity set up by former student Jasvinder Sanghera that is dedicated to helping the victims of these situations and has campaigned to make forced marriage a crime in the UK.
The aim of the programme is to help young people become aware that someone is listening, that education is the greatest tool they can provide themselves. They are also training staff to recognise the problems and deal with them, providing support for the victim wherever possible.
Students will also be able to tend awareness sessions as part of the programme, and posters will be hung around the college with confidential helpline numbers.
Sanghera knows exactly what it feels like to have her family try and force her into marriage without an education, but she managed to run away from home, and set her life on a different, more fulfilling track.
She returned to education of her own volition in her late 20s, attending Derby College and passing her exams. She was then encouraged to further herself at Derby University, from which she graduated with a social and cultural studies degree.
“It was [Derby College] that set me on the road to finding my voice and having the confidence to start campaigning for awareness around the world,” said Sanghera. She explained that she and her sisters were never given the education they deserved as they were informed they wouldn’t need one when they become a wife.
“It was a huge decision for me to return to education as my abusers always told me that I was worthless and incapable,” Sanghera explained. Now an author twice over, and appointed CBE, won multiple awards, and considered an inspiration the world over, boy, did she prove them wrong!
Mandie Stravino, Derby College’s Chief Executive and Principal, said that after discussing forced marriage and honour crime issues with Sanghera, she wanted Derby College to start raising awareness and ensure that safeguards were in place. “I hope that the work we do with Karma Nirvana will encourage other schools and colleges around the UK to take this issue seriously and follow our lead,” she said.
The ball is in motion for people to come together to tackle the issues of forced marriage and honour crimes in young people, and we can look forward to a future that doesn’t include these heinous acts.