Saturday, November 24, 2012

Indian migrants, family violence and White Ribbon Day.

Indian migrants, family violence and White Ribbon Day.


Are you bold enough?

Statistics with the police, hospitals and settlement agencies in Auckland, New Zealand reveal that of the migrants, Indians in general and Indo-Fijians in particular have some of the highest numbers on family violence on a percentage basis. If this was said by an outsider, like Paul Henry (TV presenter) or some non-Indian journalist or commentator, Auckland Indian community would jump on them and accuse them of racism. In my case, they cannot do this. Because, despite the claims of some so called “pure” Indian leaders in Auckland and in particular an Indian newspaper editor and apprentice politician that Thakur is not a “real Indian”, are great deal of hot air and hogwash. What do you call the grandson of an Indentured labourer whose both parents were of Indian origin and whose grandfather was born in Karouli, a small derived and poor village in Rajasthan, India where so called Maharajahs still exploit their people? May be a Fijian, and Indo-Fijian, but nevertheless an Indian who could still shame many so called ‘real Indians” with his knowledge of Hindi, mythologies and history. The sad irony is that many such migrant Indians and Indo –Fijians reportedly committing violence against women happen to be Hindus.

Show your support

Hinduism in particular and India in general show very high regard for Goddesses and women in theory and rituals. In Navratam, before Diwali, we dedicate ten days to dance and celebrate women and Goddesses made of lifeless statues of plastics, mortars and stones, founded in mythology and mostly made in China or Brazil. However, the actual living Goddesses in flesh and blood, in form of our ladies - our mothers, sisters and daughters in some instances are still treated as second - class in real life. The cases of female infanticide (foeticide), violence against women and treatment of widows and dowry are still some living examples. The cases of latter one still exist in developed countries, where some cases of dowry have been reported in New Zealand as well. In a recent community project in West Auckland, Indian community worked with Police, Auckland Council and Ministry of Social Development on Family Violence in our community. This was as a wake-up call to our religious organisations to shift emphasis from rituals, festival celebrations, dance and songs to tangible community service, welfare and support for their followers. Having feel-good conferences make leaders famous and win them award and medals but delivers little tangibly to the community. Having business conferences, supporting businesses in name of Hinduism delivers wealth for business community, what do the community with many social ills and their suffering women and children get?

Henderson White Ribbon March, starting at Waitakere Hospital


The White Ribbon March for West Auckland was at 1pm on Friday 23 November, 2012. One would think that our Indian community, with high statistics of family violence, would be represented in high numbers, at least their women. However of the 200-300 people, Indians were prominent by their absence. They are represented by this group or that group, this Mandali, this Sanatan, but nobody came, as if we do not have a problem, or it is somebody else’s problem. I have been challenging our community, especially priests, pundits and religious leaders to make religion more tangible and helpful for the people instead of abstract rituals and blessings which no way solve social ills our community is infested with. In two recent publicised cases, we have Indians who were discharged on bail and ended up committing murder while out on bail.

Indians were prominent by their absence

Indian and Hindu community leaders holding feel-good conferences, celebrating festivals, raising flags with great deal of noise, song and dances need to realise that they cannot sweep under the carpet some evils lurking in the community.

Ostrich syndrome of putting your heads in the sand to escape a problem does not solve your problem. In fact by doing so, we hide our heads but end up exposing our posterior. Shooting the messenger, like they did recently to me, does not solve our problems, neither does it obliterate the fact that we have some grave problems we need to collectively address. Accepting the fact that we do have a problem is good starting point.

 Shakti, a commendable support for women in need of support

On this White Ribbon Day, I pay tribute to many White Ribbon Ambassadors and organisations which come to support our battered, mistreated and homeless women who are victims of family violence. We do have a problem; we will see it once we pull our heads out of the sand.
West Auckland White Ribbon March - Good support from the community. We need more Indians to appreciate and recognise the problems in our community