Jasvinder’s sister, Robina, died in 1987 from burns. She had an unhappy marriage and told her husband she was going to take her own life. Jasvinder has kept her sister’s memory alive by setting up Karma Nirvana, a project that advocates for Asian people.
Jasvinder was one of seven sisters born and brought up in England. Her parents had come to England from India in the 1950’s. They were Sikhs and spoke Punjabi. Jasvinder grew up in Derby with her sisters and her brother.
Jasvinder felt especially close to her sister, Robina, who was just a year and a half older than her. When Robina was almost 15 she was sent abroad for an arranged married, and came back to school in England, as a married woman.
Jasvinder was also expected to have an arranged marriage, just like her sisters, but she ran away from home to avoid this arrangement, and as a result she was disowned by the whole family. Her parents said that Jasvinder had brought shame to the family, and they refused to see her or talk to her on the telephone.
Eventually Robina made contact with Jasvinder and the two sisters saw each other occasionally and talked secretly on the telephone.
Robina did not have a happy marriage and she divorced her husband. She re-married, to a man who was accepted by her parents, but once again she was desperately unhappy and said she experienced domestic violence. She told Jasvinder that she was suffering physically and emotionally. Jasvinder had seen bruises on Robina’s body and she urged Robina to leave her husband.
Robina went to see her parents to ask for their advice. They told her she must return to her husband in order to protect the family honour, or izzat. Jasvinder was extremely worried and wanted to protect her sister but felt quite powerless.
Jasvinder was interviewed in October 2007.