Overwhelmed, deep gratitude, pain and even joy are just some of the words describing how my body and soul were feeling as I stood yesterday in the heart of Bradford city centre surrounded by solicitors holding 100 balloons.
A law firm had taken time not for money, position or privilege to organise themselves so that victims of honour based abuse would be remembered in the city where murdered teenager Shafilea Ahmed was born. This young teenager had herself an ambition to be an aspiring barrister but sadly as with many victims she suffered daily abuse at the hands of her parents for embracing independence, freedoms and rights.
As 100 balloons reached into Bradford’s skyline Eva Cassidy’s ‘Fields of Gold’ played in the background and we all looked on allowing our emotions to take over. One hundred balloons and yet we know the balloons don’t even come close to representing the true picture of lives lost to honour abuses, forced marriages and suicides. This including the life of my sister who took her own life as family members believed it too shameful for her to separate from an abusive husband.
After the last balloon was released I turned to each solicitor with immense gratitude knowing this was not part of their day job and yet they were bothered enough to be a part of remembering victims. I wish more people would take such time to help us break the silences especially those in positions of power. As I looked out into the diverse city of Bradford I saw few faces in the audience from where we know these abuses are hidden, shame on them not us. As we stood in solidarity with those who didn’t have to play a part I felt a sense of achievement even fearlessness as no one can silence us and our voices are gathering in strength. Yesterday inspired me and my team who often work in the face of adversity and risk, one recent example being how many attempt to continuously hack our website!
Makin Dixon Solicitors we salute you in taking a platform with Karma Nirvana for the many silenced and for those who have gone before us. Such examples of activism put those who could do more to shame. The summer holidays are around the corner and many thousands of young people across Britain will be taken abroad for engagements and/or forced marriages. The question is have you noticed them today? Have you bothered to look or ask the question? Will you notice them when if they return? If you cannot answer these questions with conviction to reach victims then you need to be bothered enough to ask today. Don’t let another balloon disappear into thin air instead grasp and hold on tight to the string and pull it back to safety.
Jasvinder Sanghera CBE