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Violation of womens rights in the Asian-American community

is a pandemic that has received moderate media attention due to
some high visibility cases in the last few years. Unfortunately,
this violence is something a lot of Asian Americans are familiar
with given the fact that its looked at as normal is often

Though this is not unique to the Asian American

culture (as violent control over women has been advocated in

almost all major civilizations in the past), I will focus on the
Asian American culture as not only am I a part of it but have
seen it in the Indian and the Indian American households.
Current attitudes of the Anglo/Caucasian society are often
used as tools to gauge actions of the Asian American community,
and even though the intended outcome is noble, it leads to
greater misunderstanding and rift in the community.

As Asians, I

truly believe that we need to look intrinsically, and not succumb

to the white savior mentality to solve this issue for us.


will lead to more educated and responsible male attitude towards

the issue at hand and lead to greater understanding of violence
towards women and its historical roots.

To truly solve the

problem, the solution has to come from within the Asian American

I believe that humanity exists in all of us, and

imbuing a new generation with respect for women will go a long

way towards gender equality in the Asian American community.
The Problem: Power!
Majority of Asian families are patriarchal in nature.
Though there are examples of matriarchal systems such as the
Karen in Burma and the Khasi in India, having first-hand
knowledge of the Khasi themselves, it essentially amounts to men
not being responsible for the financial wellbeing of the family
and drinking and indulging in opium throughout the day while
women do majority of the work.

Therefore it is safe to assume

that even in a matriarchal system, the violence factor still

Does that above mean that patriarchal systems are any

No, in fact its worse.

This is due to the fact that

power now becomes part of the very social fabric and family
system itself, where men automatically assume the dominant role
and even civic and government institutions can (and actively do)
advocate the use of violence to adhere to social norms which are
themselves defined by males.
Asian-American society is of course part and parcel of the
same Asian cultural fabric that we are derived from.

Most of us

come from countries that have very different and much more

conservative cultural norms than our current country of residence

or citizenship.

Due to our conservative upbringing and very

often community oriented family structure, we tend to get married

within its bounds and hence end up prescribing to the same
mentality as the previous generation.

Though I believe that this

will change overtime (in fact has already changed a lot in some
Asian communities such as the Japanese Americans), the dispersion
of second wave of Asian Americans via interracial and
intercultural marriages is still rather low.

The question that

begs to be asked is, is this the only way to eliminate violence

against women in the Asian American community?
with the native culture the only solution?

Is assimilation

I certainly hope not!

As per the Asian & Pacific Institute on Domestic Violence

78% of the victims of fatalities were women.

83% of perpetrators

were men and if that is not enough, 68% of the victims were
intimate partners (current, estranged or ex-partners).


unfortunately shows a very predictable pattern and the data

reveals some disturbing pictures of the Asian American culture.
It clearly demonstrates two major concerns:
a) Continuing patriarchal culture and power/dominance by
male counterparts in Asian American households &
b) Violent behavior as a result of lowering of mens status
as a result of increased education and economic role of

The data above is often put to test by very dismal arguments from
within the Asian American community.

Anecdotal data such low

divorce rates are cited to discredit the presented data.

however, is a misnomer.


Low divorce rates exist especially due

to the patriarchal structure of the Asian American societies.

There are yet more reasons for the lack of data and inaction in
Asian American communities.
Issues such as a language barrier and ostracization of women
from within the community itself are major hurdles in the race
towards reduction in violence and gender equality.
important factor is the role of mothers themselves.

As bread-

earners, bearer of children and the glue that holds the family
together, women are still victims of violence and therefore raise
their daughters in the same resilient manner as they were.
In conclusion, I believe that Asian American society needs a
major recalibration in their behavior towards women.


there is a plethora of very positive values that Asian American

families and communities bring to this nations proverbial values
table, the debate over treatment of women is something we
should never shy away from.

I believe that we can still hold on

to our Asian roots and continue to practice our culture without

indulgence in patriarchal systems and the practices associated
with it.