Welcome to SPN

Register and Join the most happening forum of Sikh community & intellectuals from around the world.

Sign Up Now!

Life in Illegality - When Depression, Anxiety and Alcoholism Become Norms (Part 1)

Discussion in 'Health & Nutrition' started by spnadmin, Dec 15, 2010.

  1. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
    Expand Collapse
    1947-2014 (Archived)
    SPNer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2004
    Messages:
    14,551
    Likes Received:
    19,200
    by Rajiv Kunwar


    (The following write-up is based on my original Master’s thesis titled “Undocumented migrants’ access to health care in Germany: Limitations and strategies”. This article is the first in a series. The rest will be in the Immigration section.)

    Ninety percent of undocumented Punjabis living in isolation in Germany due to their illegal status are suffering from severe mental and psychological problems. This was one of the several findings of my fieldwork research for the South Asia Institute, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg. A qualitative analysis of the semi-structured interviews of 30 undocumented Punjabi migrants’ in 2009 clearly showed that this single largest South Asian ethnic community is suffering from immense emotional distress characterised by strong feeling of guilt and self-stigmatisation. This dismal mental condition stems from their isolated life and prolonged confinement to hideouts due to fear of being unmasked and deported to their home country.

    Almost every medical and social care giver interviewed for this study has accepted that a life of self-stigmatisation combined with a traumatic past, marked by a loss of self-esteem and deepening inferiority complexes is severely damaging the mental condition of these migrants forcing them to resort to unhealthy tendencies and behaviours. “Sharam” ( “ shame), “badnaami”( “stigmatisation”), “bay-izzati”( “ insult”) and “ pachchtava” ( “ regret”) were the terms used by these undocumented Punjabi migrants during several one-to-one interviews to express their feelings about a tarnished life alienating them from their family and children.

    Interestingly, contrary to the general impression that these migrants from the Indian state of Punjab may have come to Germany due to security reasons, almost every migrant admitted to have entered Germany illegally primarily for job, money or for the purpose of establishing a relationship with someone in order to obtain a legal status. Also, these migrants accepted that they entered Germany after spending a fair amount of time with a life of illegality in some other countries of the EU or former Soviet Union states. Henceforth, it is quite ironical that these migrants crib and complain about their dismal mental condition when they themselves have chosen a path of illegality for their materialistic needs.

    While most of the migrants agreed that fear was a dominant feature of their lives, they expressed varying views regarding the origin of their poor mental condition. In the opinion of Dalbir and Sikka, the fear of being identified, unmasked and persecuted haunts them all the time, forcing them to remain invisible. Iqbal Singh, another undocumented migrant, contends that the problem of anxiety has also to do with a high level of jealousy among the housemates. He explains that every time someone from their group informs others about the possibility of finding an escape route from illegality leave alone actually finding one, others go into their shells. Almost all interviewed migrants admitted to some sort of rivalry among housemates as to who will be first to obtain a legal status. After all, this is what every undocumented migrant is aiming for.

    Even the very common health problem of body pain particularly headache is mostly a result of these migrants’ vulnerable physical and psychological condition. Being away from their family and relatives and living such an incalculable life of consigned oblivion affects their body and psyche. And when the point is reached when their health needs some attention in a country like Germany where the legal system does not seem to have any prominent loopholes, lack of proper access to medical care further compounds their health woes.

    Lack of trust in people particularly belonging to the host population is something which creates several impediments for such migrants especially when they need medical care, something which is hardly accessible to these people due to state’s restrictive health care policy. An example in this regard is that these Punjabis are overcautious when it comes to choosing a physician during the time of their illness. They want to be absolutely sure that the doctor they are going to see is either known to them through a reliable friend or is someone with a similar cultural background. They think that seeing a German doctor is an enormous risk due to fear of being identified and caught by Police. The general impression among these undocumented migrants is that the German doctors are too law-abiding and therefore they are under some kind of obligation to inform the police or the Foreigners’ Registration Office about the arrival of any illegal migrant to their clinic or hospital. This is what makes these migrants too suspicious about other people in general and medical fraternity in particular.

    As regards trusting a specific community of the medical fraternity, physicians, pharmacists and traditional healers of the South Asian origin are considered more approachable by these migrants because of a certain cultural and linguistic affinity. They are usually preferred over other doctors so that the patient’s health problems can be addressed without any cultural barriers. However, interestingly there are also some Punjabi migrants who feel uncomfortable talking to physicians of their own nationality and ethnicity about venereal diseases and alcohol abuse. This study has also found some migrants admitting that they are not used to sharing such problems with South Asian practitioners openly due to cultural conservatism. One reason to avoid seeing doctors of one’s own nationality or cultural background is shame and embarrassment in facing such doctors due to the stigma associated with these migrants’ illegal status. The preference of Russian doctors in this case, however, is noteworthy. Physicians of Russian origin are also very popular among South Asian undocumented migrants particularly Punjabis. This could be attributed to the fact that the majority of these South Asians enter the European Union after spending a fair amount of time in Russia. Familiarity with Russian doctors and their language helps them enjoy a certain comfort level. So, this tug of war between trust and suspicion takes a heavy toll of these migrants for most part of their life of illegality and they are sometimes left with their instincts alone to help them in such complex situations.

    Yet another example which can be cited here with regard to these migrants encountering a constant conflict between suspicion and trust is that they do not even trust people they are sharing a room with, and prefer to remain tight-lipped about their plans and personal matters. 25-year-old Sukhi reveals that there have been a few instances when people from within the same group secretly informed the police about a specific hideout or an individual working illegally at a certain place which caused a serious trouble for many of them. According to him, such things happen due to continuous frustration and despondency.

    Even the problems of alcoholism and sleep disorders among this population are also a result of vulnerable psychological condition this population is faced with. It is worth mentioning here that approximately 85 to 90 percent of these Punjabi migrants belong to Sikhism, wherein drinking is clearly considered against the spirit and tenet of Sikhism. However, most of the migrants especially the young ones are addicted to drinking hoping that it helps them fight depression and sleep disorders. Unfortunately, this perception goes the other way round and, as confirmed by some doctors during this study, this misconception leads these Punjabi migrants to deeper depression. In fact, a young Punjabi undocumented migrant Sikka reveals that alcohol abuse has been a major trigger of abdominal pain among lot of his housemates as a result of which some of them even suffer from recurring abdominal pain. He discloses that one of his friends, who often complained of body pain especially in the abdominal area, was recently diagnosed with a liver infection. Although Sikka´s friend managed to get some treatment for his liver infection, his life eventually could not be saved as his condition needed regular and prolonged medical attention, which was not possible because of lack of resources and access owing to his illegal status.

    A life full of depression, anxiety and social alienation for several months and even years is also fast giving rise to a new but unusual practice of ‘laundebaazi’ (a term these Punjabis use for gayness) among this population. Though claiming to have refrained from homosexuality, Dara , an undocumented migrant of the Pathan community in Pakistan, gives away details of the practice of gayness among his housemates that includes Indian Punjabis as well. Gayness, he tries to explain, is seen as an ideal foil to man-woman sex especially when the latter is more risk-prone due to the migrants’ restricted mobility. However, he clarifies, gayness works for those who find it a feasible option by choice and not by force. With homosexuality having ceased to be a social taboo in European society, some of his South Asian housemates are also fast coming to terms with this practice. Although this new tendency vis-à-vis sexual behaviours is not a disease, it definitely can be attributed to frustration and depression in their life due to lack of their contact with female members of the population. Needless to say that their forced and prolonged sexual abstinence is encouraging them to resort to this new sexual behaviour.

    In case of the undocumented migrants who manage to have some contact with female members of the population due to proximity of their hideout, their mental condition does not augur too well either. A lot of young migrants between the age category of 20 to 25 years are fast getting used to the excessive use of certain cheap quality libido-enhancing Viagra pills. Initially sold as anti-depression pills under code names like Sardard ki Goli (Headache pills), Murga Chhaap Pathaka (a popular brand name for fireworks and crackers in India) and Pink City (the city of Jaipur from where originally the supplier of such pills hailed from), these local versions of Viagra arriving from India are playing havoc on the minds and bodies of these young migrants. Most of these young migrants fail to resist the temptation of using these pills in order to achieve what they describe as “total mazaa” ( “complete fun”) vis-à-vis ecstatic sexual pleasures. However, some of these migrants have already undergone a life-threatening phase of their illness due to overdose of these pills which could not have been avoided due to their lack of access to health care options and facilities.

    Now the question arises as to why this population of undocumented migrants should be allowed an easy access to health care? The fact that the government uses these migrants as a cheap and effective workforce has ceased to be a secret any more. In fact, this labour force reasonably contributes towards overall economy of Germany while still be devoid of proper rights to seeking medical care. The time has come when the government should accept that these migrants do fill a gap in the socio-economic system and therefore rightly deserve some kind of leeway in availing of medical care facilities in this country.

    P.S. Names of all the migrants in the above article have been changed due to interviewees’ request.

    http://www.southasiamail.com/news.php?id=92011
     
  2. Loading...

    Similar Threads Forum Date
    Sikh News Life After 9/11: NY 'Sikh Project' To Highlight Community Heroes - Chandigarh Tribune Breaking News Sep 12, 2016
    Sikhi Meditation As A Way Of Life In Sikhism Sikh Sikhi Sikhism Jun 11, 2016
    Life Is Hard Blogs Jun 1, 2016
    Life Before Sikhi? Questions and Answers Mar 27, 2016
    Life in the Tropics... with Guru Blogs Oct 21, 2015

  3. kds1980

    kds1980 India
    Expand Collapse
    SPNer

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2005
    Messages:
    4,504
    Likes Received:
    2,738
    Re: Life in illegality - When depression, anxiety and alcoholism become norms

    So this shows that absence of opposite sex can make people Gay as I have seen pro homosexual always propagate that Only which are natuaral gays induldge in homosexual behaviour

    Political compulsion.almost everybody in India knows where is red light area in the city and where prostitute are available,betting is very famous Yet No Govt can even think legalising these as lot political parties will strart making lot of noise about them.
     
  4. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
    Expand Collapse
    1947-2014 (Archived)
    SPNer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2004
    Messages:
    14,551
    Likes Received:
    19,200
    Re: Life in illegality - When depression, anxiety and alcoholism become norms

    Kanwardeep ji

    I am not able to understand what you have said. However, this comment
    is definitely NOT consistent with current science on the subject of homosexuality.

    The author however is NOT saying that lack of contact with female members of the population causes homosexuality either. He is saying something very different.

    And...this paragraph is the conclusion of the entire article. Where does it deal with the prostitution? It is summing up the total picture of bad living conditions and impoverished lives of people who are being exploited by a new land.

     
  5. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
    Expand Collapse
    1947-2014 (Archived)
    SPNer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2004
    Messages:
    14,551
    Likes Received:
    19,200
    Re: Life in illegality - When depression, anxiety and alcoholism become norms

    Also, this is one person's research study. It should be subject to criticism just like any other research article. :)
     
  6. kds1980

    kds1980 India
    Expand Collapse
    SPNer

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2005
    Messages:
    4,504
    Likes Received:
    2,738
    Re: Life in illegality - When depression, anxiety and alcoholism become norms

    Do You mean that if these men are allowed wed and have a proper heterosexual life ,then will they choose to induldge in homosexual behaviour?

    It clearly looks that sexual starvation is leading them to homosexuality
     
  7. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
    Expand Collapse
    1947-2014 (Archived)
    SPNer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2004
    Messages:
    14,551
    Likes Received:
    19,200
    Re: Life in illegality - When depression, anxiety and alcoholism become norms

    No that is not what I mean. And I think that sexual starvation is not the main reason why they are led to homosexuality.
     
  8. kds1980

    kds1980 India
    Expand Collapse
    SPNer

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2005
    Messages:
    4,504
    Likes Received:
    2,738
    Re: Life in illegality - When depression, anxiety and alcoholism become norms

    Here is what author is saying

    Although this new tendency vis-à-vis sexual behaviours is not a disease, it definitely can be attributed to frustration and depression in their life due to lack of their contact with female members of the population. Needless to say that their forced and prolonged sexual abstinence is encouraging them to resort to this new sexual behaviour.

    Except sexual starvation their is no other reason for these men to induldge in homosexual behaviour as if they are given choice in Punjab they will definately choose to marry and indulge in hetrosexual activity
     
    • Like Like x 1
  9. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
    Expand Collapse
    1947-2014 (Archived)
    SPNer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2004
    Messages:
    14,551
    Likes Received:
    19,200
    Re: Life in illegality - When depression, anxiety and alcoholism become norms

    The following phrase, in my reading of the article, is important: "it definitely can be attributed to frustration and depression" . Important, because the phrase suggests that the absence of women is not the sole factor. The absence of women creates an emotional and sexual vacuum which, according to the author, is intensified by many frustrations (economic, lack of proper food and shelter), and also by depression. So in sum, I don't think the author is saying that it is a simple matter where the absence of women will make you gay.

    Here is where I think you and I are in closer agreement
    But the point to be made is that they are not in Punjab and the conditions of their lives means they are not "given a choice" in any real sense.

    To repeat: the author has not represented current research very well either. Absence of women will not cause someone to be gay. I am not agreeing with author, but trying to explain his meaning in that paragraph. Not much more that I can offer on these several points in the article. gingerteakaur
     
  10. findingmyway

    findingmyway
    Expand Collapse
    Writer SPNer Contributor Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2010
    Messages:
    1,667
    Likes Received:
    3,767
    Re: Life in Illegality - When Depression, Anxiety and Alcoholism Become Norms

    Kanwardeep ji, you have missed this line.
    This shows that the men who exhibit this behaviour must have something inside them that predisposes them to being bisexual. Those who do not have bisexual tendencies do not find laundebazi an option. This has been supported by medical research.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  11. kds1980

    kds1980 India
    Expand Collapse
    SPNer

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2005
    Messages:
    4,504
    Likes Received:
    2,738
    Re: Life in Illegality - When Depression, Anxiety and Alcoholism Become Norms

    Here is another report

    Sex-starved prisoners turn gay

    http://www.hindustantimes.com/Sex-starved-prisoners-turn-gay/Article1-91414.aspx

    And BTW upto 1973 medical science use to believe that homosexuality is mental disease Only after that they changed their stance on it and removed it from the list of mental illness.so how can we trust what medical research today is saying maynot be changed in Future
     
    • Like Like x 1

Share This Page