Our cover story in June, Ties That Bind: Why Women Don’t Walk Away from Abusive Marriages written by Rasana Atreya received an overwhelming response, with many women living here and in India writing privately to tell us that this was their story.
Impossible To Think of Domestic Violence in America
As a woman I am deeply disturbed by the facts and arguments presented in India Currents (Ties That Bind: Why Women Don’t Walk Away from Abusive Marriages, June 2017).
If we are talking about low-class uneducated people living in Indian villages, we may find cases of physical abuse of women by their husbands and mothers-in-law who burn them live. But in America it is impossible to even think of such abuse.
One needs to find the real causes why these cases have started to surface recently. My reasoning is this: Most marriages are marriages of convenience. Men go to India for a couple of weeks and find a bride who is educated, so that both can fulfill the Indian dream of getting rich. However, since there is no emotional bond, their selfish motives overtake and the marriage begins to fall apart. The only way a woman can get legal status is by amnesty.
In the case cited in the article the woman states that she came to America on a student visa and got married. To my knowledge people who are on F-1 or H1B visas marry for their selfish motives of getting green cards. They deceive their husbands by filing false reports of psychological abuse because they cannot file a report of physical abuse since there is no violence involved. These women know the loopholes in the immigration laws and abuse them in order to get legal status. During the last 10 years the number of illegal people from India has increased to over half a million.
Organizations like Raksha (in Atlanta), and Maitri and Narika in the Bay Area help these women because in America we have shelters for battered women. These organizations get government help; so they have flourished.
Indians have exploited another area which is daycare for senior citizens, because the government pays $95 per person per day! I despise the fact that Indians know how to circumvent laws. They are experts in sponsoring their distant relatives as blood relatives and they also bring their aged parents so that they can collect SSI and Medicaid benefits. Many seniors are snow birds and spend winter months in India in properties they have hidden from the American government. I ask—why not let elderly parents stay in India and give them financial support?
We need to raise our moral standard, which does not come from the temples we build. It is time Indians stop deceiving the country that gave us a good life.
Jyoti Mukherjee, Atlanta
This is in response to Jyoti Mukherjee’s letter following the publication of the cover story on domestic violence. (Ties That Bind: Why Women Don’t Walk Away from Abusive Marriages, June 2017). It is unfortunate that the letter writer has misconceptions about domestic violence. Last year Narika answered over 1200 calls on our helpline and helped around 33 families suffering from domestic violence.
Narika has been helping victims of domestic violence for the last 25 years.
1) Domestic violence is happening in the Bay Area in our community. Recently the Neha Rastogi case has been in the media which clearly proves that domestic violence affects people belonging to various socio-economic strata. Apart from this case, there are several other cases of domestic violence that do not get media attention or as a matter of fact even reach out for help.
2) Securing immigration status through the Violence Against Women’s Act or U Visa is a rigorous process. In order to secure a U-visa one must have a Form I-918, Supplement B signed by and authorized official of the certifying law enforcement agency and the official must confirm that you were helpful, and currently being helpful, or will likely be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the case. In order to self petition under VAWA one must provide credible evidence of battery or extreme cruelty.
Many times, the cultural barriers faced by South Asian victims of violence prohibit them from calling 911 or filing for a restraining order which is a very important step to file for VAWA and U visa.
Narika helps survivors navigate this legal process, and the idea that securing immigration status is easy to obtain or easy to fake does not at all comport with reality. We are proud of our mission and will continue to help the vulnerable South Asian victims of domestic violence.
Team Narika, email
Indian Culture Has Debated Colorism Before Colonial Raj
This is in response to Melanie Kumar’s article (The Color Black, June 2017). It appears that the writer is confused with the terms “black,” “brown,” and “white.” She implies that before the British Raj people were not conscious about skin color, which is not true.
Our Indian culture has conflicting views of a person being black or dark-skinned. Lord Krishna was dark-skinned and he used to complain to Yashoda why Radha was fair and he was dark. Goddess Kali is depicted not as dark-skinned but as black. Shiv ling is also displayed in temples made of black stone instead of white marble.
Ancient historical records show that black people had migrated to South India ten thousand years ago and settled there. That is why a lot of Keralites have very dark skin and curly hair. On the other hand people of the North have descended from Middle-eastern countries; this is why their color is wheatish. Before people immigrated to America and other Western countries, we were not conscious about our skin color.
Manju Ghosh, Georgia
Have a thought or opinion to share? Send us an original letter of up to 300 words, and include your name, address, and phone number. Letters are edited for clarity and brevity.
Errata: In the May 2017 issue, we carried the wrong name for the author in the article, Of Frescoes, Havelis and Adventure. The article was written by KAVITA KANAN CHANDRA, not Kavita Wadhwani. We made the change in the online edition. However, the print edition carried the wrong name. We deeply regret this error.