Within two hours of posting this story on Facebook, 11 women (some whom I do not know) messaged me privately about how the article was essentially their life.
I’m truly humbled. Thank you for giving me this opportunity, India Currents.
Email from reader, Jyoti Mukherji, Atlanta
As a woman I am deeply disturbed by the facts and arguments presented in the June issue of India Currents (“Ties that bind – why women don’t walk away from abusive marriages” by Rasana Atreya). It appears that the article is an infomercial to help attorney Indu-Liladhar Hathi find new clients.
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 go deeper to find the real causes why these kinds of cases have started to surface recently. My reasoning is as follows: Most marriages are marriages of convenience not based on love. Men go to India for a couple of weeks and find a bride who is educated, so that both can work and fulfill the Indian-American dream of getting rich. However, since there is no emotional bond, their true selfish motives take over, and the marriage begins to fall apart. The only way a woman can get legal status in these situations 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 a F-1 or H1B visa marry for securing a green card. They deceive their husbands by filing false reports of psychological and emotional abuse; in fact, they cannot file a report of physical abuse since there is no violence involved. These women know the loopholes in the immigration laws and they abuse them in order to get legal status. Keep in mind that during the last ten years the number of illegal people from India has increased to over half a million. Add another million on H1B visas and you get the picture.
Organizations like Raksha (in Atlanta), and Maitri and Narika in the Bay Area are set up to help these women because in America we have shelters for battered women. These organizations get government help-so, they have flourished.
Indian people have exploited another area which is daycare for senior citizens, because the government pays $95 per person per day!
I despise the fact that people from India 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 Social Security 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 and abundant material success.
Email from reader, Deepika Parikh
As an Indian woman who has lived in USA for 48 years, I am infuriated and appalled by Ms. Mukherji’s response to the problems of domestic violence in our society in America.
How uninformative and ignorant to think that the violence only happens in low-class, uneducated (two derogative words) families in Indian villages. It is unbelievable that an educated, upper class woman like Ms. Mukherji would have so many misconceptions and mis-informations about violence in marriages.
If there are people like her in our society, no wonder abused women are afraid to report anything against their husbands. After reading her letter, abused women will feel abused repeatedly by people like her.
The ‘Ties that Bind’ article describes several issues that inflict violence very well, especially in our culture, and why women tend to be silent about them. Surprisingly, the only thing she learned INCORRECTLY from the article is that the student woman, in the case cited, wanted to get a green card so she accused her husband of abuse. How pathetic!
My hats off to the many volunteers and employees in organizations such as Maitrii, Narika, Raksha , Sakhi, Manavi, Sahara and many more in the US that work diligently to help abused South Asian women. It is an insult to these hard working people to say that “these organizations get government help so they have flourished”. Do people have any idea what kind of emotional stress these people go through EVERY DAY to be able to help these abused women young and old, (yes, old women too).
One more question to Ms. Mukherji, how can you compare the working adult children calling their able bodied senior parents and taking undue advantages of US government in daycare for senior citizens to these abused women who constantly live with their charming monster husbands day in and day out in constant fear of safety of their children and themselves?
We need to raise awareness of what goes on behind closed doors in our society and lend a helpful hand instead of making judgements about unfortunate situations without proper information.