Cultural Consumption: Task 23

Listen to someone inspirational on Desert Island Disks (BBC Radio 4)

I wanted to pick someone who I don’t know a lot about, and who’s life seemed interesting to me personally.

Jasvinder Sanghera

I decided to choose a recent broadcast from 2013, Jasvinder Sanghera; campaigner for women’s rights, and against forced marriage and ‘honour violence’.

‘At 14, Jasvinder was shown a picture of the stranger thousands of miles away she was to marry and in the face of intimidation she fled her family, chose her own husbands and gained a first class degree. Her books have shone a piercing light on the veiled world of shame, brutality and coercion that some young women endure whilst the pioneering charity she set up and runs offers refuge and practical help.

She says, “my life has had to take paths where responsibility was the key thing. Now I’m at a point in my life where I’m more content than I’ve ever been. I’ve reconciled the disownment.” ‘ – (BBC Radio 4 castaway bio)

The tracks were:

  1. Apna Sangeet – Mera Yaah Vajaye Dhol
  2. Bob Marley – Jammin’
  3. Stevie Wonder – Part Time Lover
  4. R.E.M – Losing my religion
  5. Maxwell – This Woman’s Work
  6. Lionel Richie – Endless Love
  7. Kanye West – Jesus Walks
  8. Cat Stevens – Moon Shadow

Before now, I had never listened to Desert Island Disks – and didn’t really know what to expect. I found it really inspiring, and enjoyed listening to Jasvinder explain her life through the songs she had chosen.

Brought up in a strict Sikh family, she was promised to a man in India at age 8, and was to be taken out of school and married at 14. When she said she would not marry him, she was locked in her room like a prisoner, until she finally escaped and ran away.

When the police found her, she said that she was terrified of going home and being forced to marry, the police officer agreed not to tell her family where she was, if she rang them to let them know she was safe. Her mother said that if she didn’t come home and marry, she would be dead to them, as she had dishonoured her family.

Jasvinder went on to marry a man of her own choice, and graduated with a 1st class university degree. After one of her sisters committed suicide, having experienced domestic abuse in their forced marriage, Jasvinder started up a charity – Karma Nirvana, to help protect girls in similar situations.

‘Honour Violence’ is an issue which has been in the past unresolved due to fears of racist criticism. Jasvinder mentions how she felt at the time like the same procedures were not in place for Aisian girls who went missing from school as would normally be.

Based on my first experience of Desert Island Disks, I would definitely listen again. I also found the format of the show very interesting as a structure for interviewing – having the person present with a few prompts and questions from the radio host. I could learn from this for future projects, since I am interested in interview style and technique in relation to documentary. 


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