I have been reading books by Jasvinder Sanghera.
Firstly, her autobiography, “Shame” and her later book, “Daughters of Shame” – both published by Hodder & Stoughton.
I have found reading these both eye-opening and shocking. I have been aware for some time of the power of ‘izzat’ or ‘namus’ – the overwhelming power of ‘honour’ in some communities. Hearing people’s stories in some depth and engaging with the reality that for some people, some families, ‘honour’ is significantly more important that the life of family members.
It causes me to wonder just how significant these issues are here in Ashton-under-Lyne. It is good to know that there is an organisation to whom we can refer those who are trapped by these problems. Al;though, it is clear that as a white clergyperson, I am very unlikely to ever see behind the closed doors where these issues are a major problem.
In “Daughters of Shame”, Jasvinder says that “trying to explain the concept of honour is one of the hardest things … Asian people don’t question it: they’re swaddled in it from the moment they are born, it’s as though the absorb it along with their mother’s milk. Honour – izzat – is the cornerstone of the Asian community and since the beginning of time it’s been the job of girls and women to keep it polished. And that’s really hard because so many things can tarnish it.” The stories that Jasvinder Sanghera relates are deeply disturbing, ultimately quite horrifying. She goes on to say that “wearing lipstick, owning a mobile phone, cutting your hair; any of those things could be said to bring dishonour on a family because those are all signs that a girl is getting westernised, which is what Asian families fight so hard against. They’d lock up their daughters for months on end rather than let that happen.”
Would it be possible to get a better picture of the extent of these problems in a place like Ashton-under-Lyne?
(please also see my earlier post about Karma Nirvana – on 8th September 2014 and the website: http://www.karmanirvana.org.uk)
 Jasvinder Sanghera; “Daughters of Shame” Hodder & Stoughton, London: 2009, p27.