As supporters of the Winchester Women’s Refuge we were delighted to welcome Dwinder Singh and her lovely eldest daughter Lux to tell us of her personal story of Honour based marriage and subsequent domestic violence.
Dwinder is a Sikh and as such had to conform to her family’s wishes when it came to marriage. At 17 she was married and pregnant shortly afterwards. Without going into specific details her story from then on became one of suffering domestic abuse/violence from her husband and her family and his family and concern for protecting her young daughter. She was never alone to be able to make contact with any other people and the opportunity arose when she her husband was out of the house and she, with daughter, managed to escape to see the doctor. The doctor was concerned that the child was being mistreated and wanted to put her into care. It wasn’t until the doctor was told the whole story, that it wasn’t just her child that was suffering, it was both of them, so the decision was taken to remove them both to safety and a place in a Refuge.
The back story to this was that her husband’s family was not without money, they were very wealthy. However rather than spend money and take advantage of the things this could bring to make a happy family, Dwinder was treated like a slave and even the washing machine was only for show.
From there she went to extended family that were initially sympathetic, but not later, so this did not work out. Her mother was indifferent to her and this was short-lived. Finally she went into a refuge in Wiltshire where she finally found freedom and happiness. She also went into the CofE community who showed her support and friendship. Sadly after 6 months she had to move on and went to a refuge in the North West which offered her more support and eventually she started to work here and share skills with others.
The story continued with a second marriage in India, another daughter but sadly more of the same until eventually she married a British man and had a son, with whom she thought this was what she had been looking for and enjoyed love and family for the first time.
Sadly this didn’t last either but she has three lovely children who lover her and she is a survivor. She found she was able to pass on her knowledge and experiences and share the suffering of those going through the same. Her spiritual support also stayed with her. She finds it a humbling experience that she can help other women going through the same. The more she encourages others, the more her pain recedes as she sees real changes and hopes, maybe, that arranged marriages could be dying out as new generations come through.
Once a woman can break free from her family culture, there is nothing to stop her. The support is there and can be shared. She expressed her thanks to SI Winchester and support from Jennifer Laute (pictured second from left) as our liaison officer.
We wish Dwinder and her family all the best for their future and we continue to support the Winchester Refuge.