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Monday, 12 November, 2001, 08:59 GMT
Killer given domestic violence award
Mo Kohli, Kiranjit Ahluwalia and model Farheen Khan
Ahluwalia (centre) with Mo Kohli and model Farheen Khan
An Asian woman who was jailed for life for setting fire to her husband has been honoured at an awards ceremony for breaking the taboo of domestic violence.

Kiranjit Ahluwalia, from Southall, west London, was convicted for the murder of her husband in 1989 despite suffering 10 years of brutality at his hands.

Ahluwalia, who had her life sentence quashed in 1992 after her guilty plea to a manslaughter charge was accepted, was honoured at the first Asian Women Awards.

The Asian women honoured here...are true role models for the next generation

Cherie Booth
With help from Southall Black Sisters (SBS), she became the symbol of Asian women's struggle against domestic violence helping to change social attitudes and encourage people to speak out.

She said: "SBS has shown Asian women the road to independence and self-confidence.

"What they did for me could have been done by no-one else.

Confidence returning

"They got me released from my life sentence, they campaigned for support and sympathy for my case among a wide range of people.

"Because of them I got a good house and got my children back, because of them my confidence is returning to me.

"They have brought light into my darkness and I know they will be there to help when I need them again."

Mel B and Kiranjit Ahluwalia
Ahluwalia with former Spice Girl Mel B
Ahluwalia was honoured with five other Asian women at the Grosvenor House Hotel in central London on Sunday night for their "strength, personal achievements, determination and commitment", as voted by Asian Women magazine.

The Prime Minister's wife Cherie Booth, Spice Girl Mel B, presenter Melanie Sykes, comedienne Nina Wadia and several top Asian business and community leaders were expected to attend and present awards.

Ms Booth said: "The Asian women celebrated and honoured here were just a handful of the many women across the UK who are fighting battles for themselves and their families.

Women's hardships

"I hope that these awards and this year's winners give them the courage to come forward and be recognised.

"They are true role models for the next generation."

Samina Saeed, editor of Asian Woman magazine, and founder of the awards said: "These awards were designed to recognise the fact that women go through many hardships, and come out fighting both community and family to survive."

Women go through many hardships and come out fighting both community and family to survive

Samina Saeed
Asian Woman magazine
The other winners were:

  • Mradula Kothary from Wembley, London, whose son Rajen was diagnosed with a hole in the heart at birth and died in October, aged 29.

  • Surrender, from Ealing, London, who was diagnosed with HIV earlier this year after her husband died of an Aids-related illness.

  • Bhupinder Manz, from Southall, who works full-time and looks after her two children despite being on a dialysis machine and waiting for a kidney transplant.

  • Anna Pandya, 15, from Leicester, who is deaf and communicates for her whole family who have hearing difficulties.

  • Sukhdev Reel, from West Drayton, west London, who has campaigned to try and prove her student son Ricky was murdered. She now campaigns against racial discrimination while looking after her four children.

    The SBS also received a special Lifetime Achievement Award for its ongoing commitment to and support for Asian and black women who face violence and abuse at home.

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