South Asian support groups in New York City are stepping up efforts to assist survivors of gender-based violence amid a concerning surge in incidents within their communities.
Support for trapped victims: Sakhi for South Asian Women, a Queens-based nonprofit, is among those that provide crucial support and resources to survivors in the city. The organization has observed a 68% increase in calls to their helpline from January to July of 2023, compared to the same period last year.
In an interview with CBS, Sakhi Executive Director Kavita Mehra highlighted how societal pressures can often trap survivors in abusive situations. According to Mehra, many South Asian survivors are financially dependent on their abusers, exacerbating their isolation.
Pervasive violence: Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar, the first South Asian woman elected to New York State office, cited to CBS the tragic case of Mandeep Kaur, who took her own life after suffering eight years of domestic abuse in 2022. Kaur’s abuser was not prosecuted, illustrating the need for stronger interventions in such cases.
A recent murder-suicide in Ozone Park has also drawn attention to the pervasive nature of gender-based violence within South Asian communities.
Rooted in cultural norms: Jahajee Sisters, a gender justice organization working to end sexual violence among Indo-Caribbean communities, emphasizes that such violence is deeply rooted in cultural norms. A popular saying among these communities disturbingly suggests, “If he beats you, he loves you.”
South Asian SOAR, a survivor-led organization, also reported that 48% of South Asians have
experienced physical gender-based violence and 41% witnessed domestic violence as children at home.
Amrita Doshi, the group’s co-founder and executive director, told Gothamist in a separate interview that gender-based violence interventions must account for the vast diversity within South Asian communities, including issues tied to traditions like forced marriages or child marriages.