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Jasvinder Sanghera

Author of Shame

5 Works 173 Members 7 Reviews


Works by Jasvinder Sanghera

Shame (2007) 98 copies
Daughters of Shame (2009) 57 copies
Prigioniere dell'onore (2011) 1 copy


Common Knowledge



I stumbled across Jasvinder Sanghera on You Tube through a Ted Talk. Sanghera ran away from home and her family in order not to be forced into marriage with a stranger. She went on to found Karma Nirvana, a community-based project to help South Asian women in the UK to escape family violence and forced marriage. Sanghera wrote about her own experiences in her memoir "Shame" (on my to read list) and "Daughters of Shame" is the follow-up book. It tells the story of some of the women (and men) that Sanghera has worked with over the years with Karma Nirvana and the progress that the charity has made in helping victims of forced marriage and the abuse at the hands of family members that frequently goes along with it. It is a very eye-opening read and for me I gained a great insight into the lives of these people which gave me a greater understanding of the issue of forced marriages, how it has insidiously permeated South Asian culture and how it is not an easy problem to deal with and change because of that.… (more)
Jane-Phillips | 2 other reviews | Feb 16, 2019 |
Shame is a gripping memoir that I read in under 24 hours. When she is 15, British born and raised Jasvinder, a Sikh girl, is told it is time to marry the man her parents have picked out for her—a stranger from India who she hasn’t met. She only wants to finish school and maybe even go to university. Having watched her older sisters enter miserable forced marriages that they are told to shut up and endure, she refuses to get married, and her parents lock her under house arrest. With the help of a friend’s older brother, she escapes. A month or so later, a police officer convinces her to contact her family. She hopes that she has made her point and that they will let her come home. She is shocked to hear that they consider her dead to them and they hope that she becomes destitute and is forced to live in the gutter.

*warning: spoilers below*

She eventually marries the brother, Jassey, they have a daughter, start several businesses, and buy houses. Unfortunately, because she left home while still very much a child, and because her parents didn’t teach her any life or coping skills, and because she had no healthy relationships on which to model her marriage, Jasvinder screws up and her marriage ends. This is followed by another failed marriage and two more children.

Throughout this, Jasvinder painfully misses her family, and at times reconnects with some of her six sisters and occasionally her parents (but never her one brother, who was raised by his parents to be a spoiled, entitled loser). Most of her contact with her family, however, involves her helping them out without them ever supporting her. One of her sisters tries to leave an abusive relationship but her family and the community leaders tell her she has to stay with her husband. The next week the sister burns to death. Officially it is deemed a suicide, but Jasvinder wonders if it was murder. Spurred by this tragedy, . . . .

*end spoilers*

. . . she vows to help the voiceless women who are suffering in the south Indian community. She starts a charity, http://www.karmanirvana.org.uk/, earns her A levels and then a university degree. Through her charity, she is successful in gaining recognition for honour killings and the problem of forced marriage in the UK—a problem that most people didn’t realize existed at the time. The book ends with some horrific cases of honour killings that she has come across in the UK. This was published in 2007 and followed by two sequels. This year (2013), she was awarded the Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE).

Shame one of the more compelling books I’ve read this summer. It’s a memoir, so don’t expect a literary masterpiece. Some readers complain that they don’t like Jasvinder because she makes stupid decisions, mistreats her first husband (who is made to look like a saint), and is sometimes selfish. Just a little lacking in insight. Okay, a lot lacking in insight. I guess if they ran away from an abusive situation while still a child, with no life skills, and made their own way in the world, they would be likeable, cheerful, and perfect at all times. (Was I just being sarcastic?)

Jasvinder’s story takes place in the Sikh community in the UK, but similar stories happen in other cultural groups throughout the world. The cultures and religions vary, but hers is an unfortunately too common problem. That said, I’ve had two close Sikh friends, and many Sikh acquaintances, and Jasvinder’s story is extreme. I just wouldn’t want someone to read this book on my recommendation and then walk away thinking that this is the norm for Sikhs (at least it isn’t in my experience).

Recommended for: this is one of those books that I give a broad recommendation as a must read for everyone, especially anyone who is unaware that forced marriage is a problem in Europe and North America, Australia, and New Zealand.
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4 vote
Nickelini | 3 other reviews | Aug 28, 2013 |
Lots to say about this book but not finding words to formulate.

First of all it pissed me off, the way her parents thought they were better than The English people, they considered white, low class (there words , not mine) but the whites were good enough to let them live there and care for them and this is what is wrong with Europe nowadays.
Then they stick with there own, do not mix with white people, don't learn English and let there daughters marry people from their former country so the husbands also get a visa to live in Europe.

Especially this made me angry: she was writing about her poor mom, who paid all the taxes and was let down by the English at the end of her life looking after her? She is talking about the nurses. I think it was her mom's responsibility to learn English when she arrived in this country and not the other way around.

Then about the author. Sorry but I am not a fan of her actions. She seems very selfish and very quick to cheat but on the other hand, it is brave of her that she admitted to all of this.

At the end of the book I was glad to finally been able to agree with her. For instance her fight against forced marriage and more importantly her fight against so called Honour killings. Great work.

Oh and what scares her and me is that the younger generation of the former immigrants are even more strict in there ways.
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Marlene-NL | 3 other reviews | Apr 12, 2013 |
An interesting read about the situation of forced marriage, honour killings and the stories of the women affected by them. The book is told by Jasvinder Sanghera, the author, who also fled from the threat of forced marriage and went on to set up the charity, Karma Nirvana.

Through her own story and the stories of some of the women that she has come into contact with, we learn about the circumstances that lead up to the situation, what life is like for those women and the challenges that face them when they choose to escape. More than just a fear for personal safety, Jasvinder highlights the need for emotional support as well.

I enjoyed the book. It provided examples without getting to a point that makes you want to turn away in horror. The one downside is that several women are discussed throughout the book and it can be hard to keep track of who is who when the chapters jump from person to person.
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eesti23 | 2 other reviews | May 17, 2011 |

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