Provoked: The story of Kiranjit Ahluwalia

Provoked: A True Story

‘ Today, I have come out of my husband’s jail and entered the jail of the law’
Kiranjit Ahluwalia 1989

Kiranjit’s was the first case in which Southall Black Sisters supported and campaigned on behalf of a battered woman who had killed her husband.

Born into a privileged family in India, Kiranjit Ahluwalia came to England in 1979 to be married to a man she hardly knew. The next ten year were to be a nightmare of almost daily, physical, mental and sexual violence at the hands of her husband. There was no one she could turn to for help and support. Domestic violence was a taboo subject for many Asians in Britain, and family honour was at stake for anyone who went outside the family for help. Kiranjit, in desperation, killed the man who had tortured her for so long. Bewildered, poorly advised and speaking little English, she was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder. In prison, she unexpectedly found a degree of freedom she had never known in the outside world. For the first time she was safe from beatings and abuse, and was able to enjoy the friendship and solidarity of other women who were in a similar situation.

Meanwhile, a campaign organised by Southall Black Sisters, operating on a shoestring budget drew attention to her plight and gathered momentum. Media coverage of her case made Kiranjit something of a ’cause celebre’ and she attracted many prominent supporters, including Diana, Princess of Wales who urged her to write this book. She was released amid senses of rejoicing in September 1992 when her conviction for murder reduced to manslaughter on appeal. Regina v Ahluwalia has become legal history because it was a landmark ruling that paved the way for other women in Kiranjit’s situation to win justice.

This book was previously published under the title ‘Circle of Light’ and has recently been made into a film ‘Provoked The True Story’ staring Aishwarya Rai, Naveen Andrews, Miranda Richardson, Robbie Coltrane and Nandita Das.

Kiranjit Ahluwalia and Rahila Gupta
Published by Harper Collins India 2007
ISBN 9788172236700

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Further Reading:

Kiranjit Aluwalia Campaign

‘From Homebreakers to Jailbreakers’ for a detailed account of the Kiranjit Aluwalia and the Zoora Shah Campaign

‘I wanted him to stop hurting me’ Guardian Article 4 April 2007