The Robert Burns Humanitarians

Burns Humanitarian Awards

Since its formation in 2002, the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award has recognised the dedication, celebrated the selflessness and paid tribute to the sacrifice of each recipient of the award – all exceptional people with incredible stories to tell.

The 2019 winner of Robert Burns Humanitarian Award is Jasvinder Sanghera CBE. Born in Derby, Jasvinder's humanitarian journey began when she escaped a forced marriage by running away from home at the age of 16 – only to find herself disowned by her family.

Her four older sisters were taken individually to India to enter forced marriages. It was after one of her sisters committed suicide to escape the domestic abuse of her marriage that Jasvinder decided to found Karma NirvanaExternal link  – an award-winning charity that supports victims of honour-based abuse and forced marriage.

Founded in 1993, the charity operates a national helpline to support victims in immediate danger and currently receives around 800 calls per month. Since its inception in 2008, it has received more than 78,000 calls for service.

Crucially, the charity doesn't just work to support the victims, it also works to inform and educate the professionals who will encounter victims too. This includes dedicated training and development for the likes of the police, NHS and social services, as well as in schools.

Jasvinder was instrumental in ensuring that the UK police are required to improve their understanding of honour-based abuse and forced marriage by inspections conducted by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary.

Jasvinder is regarded as an expert advisor to the courts in matters of child, civil and criminal proceedings and the charity, which is based in Leeds, also acts as expert witnesses in court, raises awareness at events nationally and internationally, and lobbies government.

Jasvinder's efforts over a decade of lobbying government and campaigning were pivotal in creating a new law that made forced marriage a criminal offence in the UK. The legislation has now been in place for five years and this had led the way for the present consultation into the mandatory reporting of forced marriages.

Jasvinder is the latest in a long line of worthy Robert Burns Humanitarian Award winners

  • 2018 - Anna Ferrer
  • 2017 - Marcelline Budza
  • 2016 - Dr David Nott
  • 2015 - Olivia Giles
  • 2014 - Blanche Nicolson
  • 2013 - Khalil Dale
  • 2012 - Karen Graham
  • 2011 - Linda Norgrove
  • 2010 - Habib Malik
  • 2009 - Guy Willoughby
  • 2008 - Jonathon Kaplan
  • 2007 - Abi Roche
  • 2006 - Marla Ruzicka
  • 2005 - Pius Ncube
  • 2004 - Clive Stafford Smith
  • 2003 - Yitzhak Frankenthal
  • 2002 - Sir John E Sulston

Read more about their stories.