Sarbjit was just 19 when she got married and moved into the house of her husband's very strict family, which included her mother-in-law, her husband’s brother and his wife. Their mother-in-law treated her two daughters-in-law like servants.
Her sister-in-law, Surjit, was more rebellious and, as a consequence, was regularly beaten for her disobedience. When the family found out she was having an affair, drastic actions were taken. They took her to a family wedding in India, where her mother-in-law arranged for her to be drugged, strangled and thrown into a river.
When Sarbjit found out what had happened to her sister-in-law, she was terrified and was told if she said a word, the same thing would happen to her. So she was forced into silence… But the stress nearly killed her and she was rushed into hospital. Knowing she might die, she told her parents what had happened.
Sarbjit worked with the police, finally becoming a key witness in the police investigation. Sarbjit’s mother-in-law and Surjit’s husband were arrested and sentenced to life in prison.
Sarbjit became the first person within a family connected with an honour killing to go into open court, waiving her anonymity to break the notions of ‘shame’ that had killed her sister-in-law… And, although she has faced intimidation and threats from her community, she would not be silent.
She joined the Metropolitan Police Service in hope of helping other voiceless victims to get the chance to speak up. Her book, ‘Shamed’, which was published last year, is now an international bestseller.
The book, published in four other languages, tells the story of how Sarbjit survived living in a murderous family that almost killed her.