In the Spotlight with Jasvinder Sanghera

with Jasvinder Sanghera, founder and director of Karma Nirvana

Jasvinder Sanghera is founder and director of Karma Nirvana in Derby, a project supporting south Asian women and children. Sanghera ran away from home when she was 15 to escape a forced marriage and was shunned by her family and many within her own community.

Her memoir Shame was published in January and this week is fourth bestselling hardback in the UK, in the Sunday Times chart.

What’s your first memory? 
A view of the sea for the first time when I was in my late teens. Until then I’d never stepped out of my home town but was thinking wow, there must be more things in the world. I fell in love with the sea then and still am as it gave me hope and the desire to dream great and bigger dreams!

What three words best describe you?
Risk taker, compassionate, whistle-blower, but not in that order.

What’s been your best job? 
The job I am doing now, advocating these issues is a job that I am passionate about. What good is anything without passion?

If you were stuck on a desert island, and you could take one person and one object, who and what would they be? 
The love of my life and music to listen to. What more could one ask on a remote island?

What are you reading?    
Boring books related to work.

Am also reading If this is a man/The Truce by Primo Levi.  

He writes from a place of reality which is often bleak, but there is also hope – reflected in the human spirit. It was actually given to me as a gift and I am so glad it was.

My experiences do not compare to what Primo Levi writes about. But how we deal with what life throws at us is the choice we make between surviving or dying. We can moan and moan about what we haven’t got but we should remind ourselves of what we do have and never forget where we came from. This book has got me gripped!

Who inspires you and why? 
Anyone who advocates against injustices and is willing to blow the whistle on it, without thinking about how they look. So people like Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela. To bring it back to England, there’s Lord Anthony Lester, not bad for a lord, and a fighter with spirit, commitment and energy, who has a private member’s bill seeking to prevent forced marriage currently before parliament.

Where is your favourite place?  
Pembrokeshire in Wales by the sea – so remote and quiet with cliff tops that take your breath away. Preferably with good company.

Which celebrity would you want to play you in a film?  
It would have to be Helen Mirren, she’s a great actress or Halle Berry. Both can act whoever they are given.

What was the last CD you bought? 
Cat Stevens, only got introduced to his beautiful voice recently and I love it, never tire of it. His song Moonshadow is so inspiring.

What’s your favourite film? 
I like any film which gives you something and enjoyed The Passion of The Christ.

Do you have any pets?
I brought a dog and yes to start it was to be safer due to my job, [Jasvinder has received death threats], but he has ended up being a member of the family and loved by us all now. His name is Lyrics.

What are your favourite foods?
Has to be Italian and Asian. I like fresh spices and good wine.

Is Big Brother a treat or trash?

To contact Karma Nirvana, call 01332 604098

Related articles
Forced marriage and honour killings

The work of Jasvinder Sanghera’s project Karma Nirvana

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