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Get Help questions

Find answers to some commonly-asked questions about Honour Based Abuse and forced marriage.

My family are threatening me with violence if I don’t get married

Your personal safety is paramount. If you ever feel that you are in danger, you should contact the police immediately on 999. The police will be able to assess your situation, advise you, and also refer you to support organisations like Karma Nirvana.

If I’m at risk of forced marriage when I go abroad, what can I do?

If you are concerned that you will be forced into marriage when abroad, contact us. Once you leave the country, it is much harder to get help. However, there are some steps you can take to improve your situation when abroad. Take the address and contact details of a trusted friend and of the High Commission/Embassy in the country you are visiting. You should also take some money, both in sterling and in the local currency, along with a spare mobile phone. Photocopy your passport and tickets before you leave. Full guidance can be found here.

If I get married overseas, is my marriage valid in the UK?

If your marriage is seen as valid in the country where it took place, it will often be valid in the UK. You must talk to a solicitor, whether you had a religious or civil marriage. Religious divorce is not valid in the UK.

Does Karma Nirvana support men?

Yes, we support male and female victims experiencing honour based abuse and forced marriage. We support individuals of all ages and ethnic backgrounds.

What is the difference between arranged and forced marriage?

Arranged marriage: Often a marriage in which families take a leading role and both parties have the free will and choice to accept or decline the arrangement.

Forced marriage: A marriage where one or both people do not consent to the marriage. They go through with the marriage under duress and pressure is used. Forcing someone into marriage is a criminal offence in the UK.

Does any religion, culture or tradition justify this abuse?

There is no excuse for abuse. Many of the major faiths condemn forced marriage. Under British law it is illegal. In our experience perpetrators may use religion, culture or tradition as a false guise for criminal offences such as GBH, harrasement and rape.

What does Karma Nirvana mean?

Karma means ‘peace’, and Nirvana ‘enlightenment’. We hope all of our victims will achieve this through our work. It was founded in 1993 by our founder Jasvinder Sanghera CBE, as a result of Jasvinder’s personal experiences and those of her sister Robina.

Where will I live if I leave home?

Refuges can provide you with somewhere safe to stay if you choose to leave home. The helpline will be able to support you with this and find the most suitable housing options available for you and your family.