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They Didn’t Take Me Seriously: A Depressing Yet Reoccurring Truth of Domestic Violence

by Sabrin

Today I came across this devastating story about a 15 year old Pakistani girl in England, who was forced to marry against her will and was brutally abused and raped by her husband, becoming pregnant at 15. Ruksana’s Story

The most depressing part of this whole incident is that Ruksana had cried out for help, but was not taken seriously.

With her classmates at school, Ruksana had heard a talk about domestic violence – and some of what she heard chimed with the 12-year-old schoolgirl.

Says Ruksana: “The speaker listed the symptoms and said – if this is happening to you, then it is domestic violence. So I kept his card, and when my parents threatened me with marriage, that’s when I called the police.”

“I told the police: my father wants to send me to Pakistan to get married against my will. I told them that he had my passport. “

“The police reassured me that this wouldn’t happen.”

Unfortunately we see that even in developed nations, often times domestic violence victims do not receive the help and aid they need.  This links back to a previous post regarding South Asian domestic violence law.

What measures can we take so that the police and the community are more aware of how to deal with domestic violence victims’ cries of help, especially breaking through cultural differences?

Also, it seems that the domestic violence education program did at least help Ruksana realize that she was facing a bigger problem.  But how can we advance abuse programs to help young kids not only learn about abuse, but how to deal with it and seek help?

*Note: The picture featured above is an award winning photo from Unicef

5 Comments

Kathryn B. WardMar 11 2008 - -

Ruksana's story should be read relative to numerous BBC's reports from 3 March 2008 onwards on forced marriages, honour crimes and thousands of girls missing from their schools and fears that they have been forced into marriags abroad, in particular, Bradford schools. The government has promised investigations-task forces.... Meanwhile, this story should be placed within contested context of the pathbreaking Southall Black Sisters' programme-shelter in London, which has done much for educating and providing services for Black-Asian-Caribbean women on domestic violence and forced marriage has been threatened by funding cuts by the Ealing Council, who think they can streamline such services to one cultural perspective fits all. how would such streamlined services help some one like Ruksana or sensitize teachers and law enforcement? see http://www.southallblacksisters.org.uk/ please go to this website and act! or see for more suggestions http://pagolnari.blogspot.com/2008/02/southall-black-sisters-need-your.html Finally, many perps and dual passport holders of such crimes escape from usa-england and go back to their own countries...which have few or no laws-enforcement.

Sylheti KonyaMar 12 2008 - -

No, I'm not Sylheti Konya, but some of you probably remember the movie titled Sylheti Konya by Humayun Ahmed which dealt with exactly this? One way of creating awareness about DV is through popular media - including screening of relevant films. Perhaps a screening of some of these movies among our communities would help spread the word (and while we're at it, let us come up with a list of movies in any language that deals with DV).

Sleeping with the EnemyMar 12 2008 - -

This would be another movie that should strike a chord with DV victims. I read somewhere that a group of friends was trying to help a girl identify herself as a victim but they didn't want to go and tell her that she was a victim. They were suggested to get her to watch this movie so that she could identify with the events. (Sorry I know this is completely off topic, but hey, I'm just trying to help)

RadhikaMar 17 2008 - -

Hi friends, I think there is an overemphasis on women always being victims. We should remember that women can also be the cause of domestic violence. I had a friend who would start physical abuse and her husband ultimately was blamed wrongly. Eventually she got counseling and took anger management classes, but her rageaholic temperament never went away. Research indicates that upto 50% of domestic abuse incidents are perpetrated by women.

To RadhikaMar 18 2008 - -

50% is a big much, don't you think? What 'research' are you loooking at? Do you mind sharing? Not to undermine the fact that men are often victims as well, but the percentages are MUCH MUCH lower than that of women.

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