Controversial - Spousal Abuse Forum | SIKH PHILOSOPHY NETWORK
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Controversial Spousal Abuse Forum

Jan 7, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
A-G calls for fight against 'cancer' of spousal abuse
Wally Oppal makes plea during forum on domestic abuse
Kim BolanVancouver Sun

Friday, November 03, 2006

CREDIT: Steve Bosch, Vancouver Sun Women in the packed audience listen to first-hand stories of spousal abuse at a forum Thursday night on violence against women in the South Asian community.

One by one, Indo-Canadian women stood up to tell tales of being beaten, slapped and threatened with knives and guns, moving a crowd of more than 2,000 people to tears Thursday night.
The forum was organized by Surrey-based Radio India as an emergency community response to three brutal assaults in the last two weeks that left two women dead and one fighting for her life.

The women signed up to speak as they entered the jammed Surrey banquet hall, launching a forum that was later addressed by politicians and social services representatives.

One woman who said she was the mother of two girls told of being beaten by her husband for years before working up the courage to leave.
"I am a survivor of 11 years of physical, mental and verbal abuse," she said. "I was held at knifepoint. I was held at gunpoint."

She said that as in many extended Indo-Canadian families, she was encouraged to put up with the beatings to save face, but she finally left.
"I am here today in one piece and my daughters are as happy as kids can be," she said. "Save your daughters, save your sisters ... if I can do it, you can do it."

Attorney-General Wally Oppal praised the forum organizers and the women who told their stories.

"It is a horrible cancer that at times seems incurable, but it can be cured," Oppal said. "This is an awakening of our collective conscience."

He said prosecutors want to bring wife batterers to justice but women are still too often afraid to testify.

"We are committed to prosecuting the wrongdoers but we need your help," Oppal said. "We need witnesses."

The incidents that prompted the forum included the Oct. 19 shooting of Gurjeet Kaur Ghuman, who was shot in the face in Port Coquitlam by her estranged husband, who then killed himself. She remains in critical condition.
Four days later, the charred remains of pregnant Surrey teacher Manjit Panghali were found along a truck route near the Delta Port.

This past Sunday, 27-year-old Navreet Kaur Waraich, the mother of a four-month-old, was stabbed to death. Her husband Jatinder has been charged with second-degree murder.

Waraich's grieving cousin Mandip Sandhu said she was touched that so many people turned out in response to Waraich's tragic death.
"We cannot bring her back, but maybe we can save another girl," Sandhu said.

She also urged the federal government to expedite the immigration process so Waraich's parents can come from India and take custody of her son. The baby is now in the care of social services.

Waraich's mom and dad are expected to arrive on visitors' visas this weekend to make funeral preparations for their daughter's service on Nov. 12 at Delta's Riverside funeral home.

"We are sorry to be here but it is because someone is killing our sisters and our daughters," Sandhu said. "That is not acceptable any more. We have to stop it.

"We are just asking for justice."

Another woman who has been married for more than 20 years made an impassioned call for an end to the violence in the community.

She said she has stayed with her husband despite being abused for more than two decades.

"Once he gave me such a good slap, it dislocated my jaw," she said.
She tried to explain why she has stayed, but struggled for words. Even when she called police on several occasions, she tried to take the charges back afterwards.

"Your self-esteem is gone. Your love turns to hate," she said.
The women identified themselves at the meeting, but The Vancouver Sun is withholding their names for legal reasons.

Representatives of several social service agencies told the crowd that help is available for women wanting to escape abuse.

Nimi Chauhan, who works with a new agency called Sahara Services Society, said there should be more coordination between available services so women and children do not fall through the cracks.

"And we need to have more culturally sensitive programs," she said.
-© The Vancouver Sun 2006





May 28, 2006
Thanks for posting that. I think it's a very important issue that more people need to admit exists...and actually go on to do something about it.

Of course, in each situation, it is always the woman that holds the power to speak out but - as most of us are well aware - external societal pressures and expectations within Asian communities complicates issues further.

Hopefully, however, events like this will assist in giving victimised women a platform on which to speak and to feel protected.


Jun 13, 2006
Thank God this issue is beginning to be addressed. It is long overdue.

It is very common in Panjabi society. I have lost count of the amount of Sikhs I have met over the years who have been directly effected by this.

Like Max says, it is usually swept under the carpet and the people who usually suffer in silent the most are the children. Often they have psychological issues in later life as a result. It doesn't help that generally our society has little empathy for them and label them as children of "sharabi kebabis" before washing their hands of the matter. This adds to the childrens woes and can damage their self esteem. Frequently they grow up to hate Sikh society/religion as a result.

We need something like this in the U.K. too.
Jan 7, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada

By WALLY OPPAL, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Multiculturalism, Britush Columbia, Canada

The recent deaths of two Indo-Canadian women, and serious injury to a third, are a reminder to all of us of the need to remain vigilant in ensuring that women are protected from violence. Unfortunately, these incidents have been taking place for a very long time. They have their origins in outdated concepts about the treatment of women.

These women were spouses, mothers, family members and contributors to our communities. Their deaths are a tragic loss to our society and to the Indo-Canadian community. They tell us that we need to continue to break down the barriers that isolate women and that prevent them from seeking help when they are in an abusive relationship.

Our personal connections to our own culture are integral to being Indo-Canadian. While violence against women is a systemic issue in mainstream Canadian society, in some Indo-Canadian communities, attitudes that place women at risk are endemic. Some dowry practices and the celebration of the birth of boys send a message to women, and to some Indo-Canadian men, that women are not considered equal by some members of our community.

A contributing factor is the desire to save face, to resolve issues within the household, rather than looking to community resources or the Gurdwara temple for assistance. Because abusers frequently isolate their victims from their families and friends - deliberately creating a climate where the woman feels helpless and where the abuser is able to exert an exaggerated sense of power and authority - this approach can worsen the woman's plight.

In contemporary society, women enjoy the same rights and responsibilities as men, including the right to be free of intimidation and to be protected from emotional, financial and physical harms. In Canada, every individual is equal before and under the law and has a right to the equal protection and benefit of the law, without discrimination based on their sex. These rights are enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in the Canadian constitution and in the law.

As an immigrant or as a Canadian citizen, women have the right to expect that their environment will be safe and that, if they are threatened by potential violence, that legal protections are available to them. Sadly, some Indo-Canadian women are afraid to speak up when they are subjected to physical or emotional threats, whether for fear of retaliation or because of longstanding cultural traditions.

Governments have a pivotal role in ensuring women who are experiencing violence, or the threat of violence, have alternatives where they can seek counselling and assistance. Settlement and immigration agencies, and agencies that deal with multicultural issues, including violence towards women, can assist by referring women to local resources.

Through the province, women also have access to Stopping the Violence counselling programs in most British Columbia communities. These counselling services assist women who have experienced sexual assault, relationship violence or childhood abuse.

Children living in a home environment where a parent is being abused also have access to individual and group counselling, designed to help break the intergenerational cycle of violence. The Children Who Witness Abuse Program provides support to both the parent who is being abused and the children, who are frequently silent witnesses to abuse.

Transition houses and safe homes provide temporary safe, secure housing for women and their children leaving abusive relationships. Second-stage housing is available for women who have left abusive relationships and are making long-term plans to live on their own.

Victims of violence and abuse, living anywhere in B.C., can call VictimLINK toll free at: 1 800 563-0808 for referral to the most appropriate program and support. VictimLINK provides services in 130 languages.

The Indo-Canadian community also has an obligation to ensure safe havens are available to women. Forums where we can discuss the issue of violence are the first step towards acknowledging ownership of this difficult and enduring problem.

As Indo-Canadians, we need to reinforce that violence towards women is a criminal act, punishable by the justice system, and is unacceptable in any culture. We need to do our part to ensure that women are safe and that they know where to find assistance if they do experience violence.
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