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Increasing violence in Asian families challenges service providers

 

 

Hayma Malini Radakrishna
Auckland, October 23, 2022

Family violence (commonly termed ‘Domestic Violence’) has severe ramifications for the victim, family, neighbourhood, community, society and the country.

Family violence is defined as a pattern of physical, sexual, and/or psychological acts committed by a current or past intimate partner. The coercive and assaultive activities are designed to feed into the imagined power of the perpetrator who seeks to dominate and win compliance and subordination of the victim.

Although gender-neutral, violence at home causes greater physiological or psychological injury to women and this is more so for women of Asian descent.

Cultural influences

The 2018 New Zealand census showed that more than a quarter (28%) of residents in Auckland were Asians. The Chinese were in majority, followed by Indians, comprising people who have migrated from other countries as well as those born in New Zealand.

The Asian community maintains a patriarchal social order and it is critical that New Zealand recognises and comprehends the differences in cultural and family pressures faced by various groups of ethnic-minority Asian immigrant and refugee women.

 

Be one a Muslim, Hindu, Confucian, Buddhist, Sikh or Arabic, the Asian culture forefronts the family as the most significant entity in one’s life. And it is the women’s responsibility to manage this family unit effectively and efficiently. According to Asian communities, if a woman fulfils her role as a ‘good-supportive’ spouse, mother, and daughter-in-law, she will have no family troubles and the disintegration of the family unit is seen as a consequence of her doing. Asian women internalise these cultural and traditional values and tolerate family violence.

Most of the Asian women who move to Aotearoa New Zealand are on partnership visas, sponsored by their husbands and this puts them in a very vulnerable position and makes them condone abuse. The values of the new country also clash with that of their home country.

The submissive women become aware of their rights to love and care and start questioning their partner’s behaviours and this is not welcomed by their spouse.

Hayman Malini Radakrishna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The tensions of moving to a new country, coupled with the need to integrate into the host culture add to the conflicts at home. Also, the fear of losing control and power over their women, the uncertainty embedded in the new environment and the need to provide for the home, add tension to the male counterpart who then becomes more oppressive.

The women, on the other hand, face the dilemma of keeping up the image of a wealthy and successful migrant family versus the family that is unable to cope overseas.

Available interventional support

Unemployment, financial hardship, racism and discrimination add fissures to the marriage.

Despite the fact that a wide range of interventionist services are available and that New Zealand has highly progressive legislation against domestic abuse, these cultural and social implications silence the women’s voices and stop them from reporting abuse.

Some women fear that seeking help may end their marriage when all they may want is intervention support.

There are organisations such as Gandhi Nivas (0800-426344; info@gandhinivas.nz) which provide early intervention and assistance to males involved in family violence to prevent harm from reoccurring. This organisation provides a safe space for men to cool off and provides counselling services to help them mend their ways and reintegrate with their families.

Women who need help can turn to their neighbours and their community organisations for support. They can also get help from professional services.

It is Ok to seek help

If you need someone to talk to about your family situation, you may call Shine Helpline 0508- 744633 Shine Helpline 9 am to 11 pm every day; It’s Not OK Infoline 0800-456450 (9 am to 11 pm every day). People who are deaf can use the New Zealand Relay Service to access these numbers.

Men can avail of online help through the Women’s Refuge Shielded Site service. The service is confidential and the search will not show up on your browser history. The service can be accessed through business websites that offer the service, such as The Warehouse, Countdown and Trade Me, by clicking on the shielded site logo.

Women can also seek the help of Women’s Refuge, make a plan to leave and learn how to stay safe online. Those who are threatened can avail of Police Safety Orders, which will oblige the offender from leaving the home temporarily even if they live on the property. The Police do not need the consent of the victim to issue a PSO.

Women can also apply for Permanent Protection Order against someone with whom they have a close relationship. Working women can ask for Family (Domestic) Violence Leave from their employer and can avail of flexible working arrangements.

They must remember however that family violence affects children’s development.

Hayma Malini Radakrishna is a community worker and communication expert with more than 20 years of experience in the industry. She lives in Auckland.

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