Green MEP for London, Jean Lambert, has called for Europe-wide action to tackle forced marriages at a special European Parliament film screening today .
The film, titled ‘Shame Travels’, tells the story of one woman’s desperate attempt to contact a sister she was not allowed to meet following a decade long-feud over forced marriage. Jasvinder Sanghera fled from her home in Derby to Newcastle to escape being sent to India to marry a much older man who she had only ever seen in a photograph. Her refusal to marry, aged just 16, led her mother to say she was ‘dead to her’. The documentary, originally screened on BBC One, follows Jasvinder’s final attempt at reconciliation with her family.
Jasvinder is today the Founder of Karma Nirvana, a charity which helps young British women to escape forced marriage. The UK government currently rescues around 400 British people every year who are being forced into marriage and helps to bring them back to the UK. Around fifteen per cent are men and one third are under the age of 17.
Speaking after the screening, Jean said: “Forced marriage is a form of abuse and should be recognised as such in every EU country as a criminal offence. To force someone into an unwanted sexual relationship is an affront to human rights: to use threats or deception to force someone into a relationship they do not want must be opposed and the victims supported and enabled to live independently and free from threat.
“We want to see a concerted approach across the EU and believe that a network of organisations like Heroes and Karma Nirvana could be very valuable in changing the attitudes within some communities that make forced marriage seem acceptable. There’s good practice happening and we need to share it to prevent more young people living in misery.”
Notes to Editors
1. The film screening took place at the Paul Henri Spaak Building, the European Parliament on Wednesday 28th June, 12:00-13:30. Jean was joined by Diana Wallis MEP, Jasvinder Sanghera, Karma Nirvana UK, Ahman Mansour, Heroes, Germany, Anna Rinder Von Beckerath, Heroes, Sweden and representatives of the European Commission.