By Amrita Sandhu
There is currently a disturbing story spreading rapidly on social media about a Sikh man who viciously attacked his daughter-in-law with a knife leaving her nearly blind. To make matters even worse, her two infant children were watching in horror while pleading for their grandfather to stop. The man had wrongly accused her of being involved in an extramarital affair. He reacted to this potential tarnishing of his reputation with this brutal physical attack. There has been one too many incidences in which abuse against women has turned deadly, or in this case, resulted in a fate perhaps worse than death. One must wonder, what can be done if there is an underlying mentality of male-dominance embedded into the very background of a culture?
Although this attack occurred in the United Kingdom, Canada has had its fair share of horrific occurrences in which Indo-Canadian women have suffered at the hands of abusive men. In many of these cases these instances have occurred in front of the young, innocent, and impressionable eyes of children. According to a study conducted on domestic violence in Canada, up to 800,000 children witness acts of violence against women annually.
Whilst living in a predominately Indo-Canadian occupied city like Surrey, it is quite common to witness many things which represent this exact mind-set. Many Indo-Canadian men believe they have the authority to treat the women and children in their lives as subordinates. Meaning, they believe they have the right to speak and behave in any way they see fit. Whether this is displayed in the form of disrespectful speech, physical aggression, or other behavioural tendencies which indicate a male-dominant mentality; the result is that it sets the stage for women to be victimized. It also teaches children that this type of behaviour is a normal part of Indian culture. It may be safe to assume that this then becomes an endless cycle of poor values learnt by example.
What is this male-dominant mentality which runs through the historical veins of Indian culture? Perhaps it is one of the contributing factors to the many issues which the Indo-Canadian youth of today face. Some of these same individuals may have once been those small, confused, and scared children aware that what they were watching was wrong but not old enough to speak on it.
No matter how forward-thinking we may think we are, surely some of us have grown up amongst frequent exhibits of this type of behaviour. At some point, we may have been subconsciously influenced by it. Most likely, the majority of us did not even question it to be anything out of the norm until we reached a certain age of knowing better. This is a generalization and certainly there are many Indian men who do not act in such a manner. However, it is most definitely common enough that the names of Indian men are being frequently brought to global attention in a very negative light.
The man who attacked his daughter-in-law was a supposed “devoted Sikh” in his local community. His physical appearance of wearing a turban and having a long beard is what marks him as a Sikh in the eyes of onlookers. However, his behaviour is the exact opposite of what this religion teaches. Unfortunately, it is actually quite common to see men displaying dishonorable types of behaviour while wearing a turban. These individuals must realize that they are a walking representation of Sikhism. It is not a fashion statement nor should it be worn out of obligation. It should be proudly displayed as a symbol of one’s faith. It is meant to serve as a solidification that the individual agrees with the tenets by which the Gurus (who wore them before us) lived their lives in accordance with. If one is exhibiting small-minded behaviour and emotional immaturity, then he should not bring himself into the world of such a prestigious class of people. These individuals should not only re-think their physical image, but question their inner moral fiber as well.
The poor helpless woman whose eyes were nearly gouged out will forever be emotionally and physically scarred. Her childrens’ lives have also been inevitably altered by this deeply disturbing incident. This is all the result of a man who acted in a fit of rage without thinking of the repercussions of his actions – just as many other Indian men do every day. We must eliminate any opportunity for our culture to be associated with such shameful and shocking acts of violence. The future safety of our daughters can be assured if we teach our sons the importance of respecting women. This is the only manner in which this cycle may be broken.
If you or anyone you know is suffering from physical abuse, please visit www.surreywomencentre.ca or call (604) 583-1295
To read more about ending domestic violence in Canada visit: www.endingviolence.org
Amrita Sandhu is a Manager at Prabu Foods Incorporation. She graduated from Kwantlen Polytechnic University with a Bachelor of Arts Majoring in Psychology. She enjoys utilizing social media platforms to raise awareness about socially and culturally relevant issues.