Last week the Manchester Evening News wrote of a young Pakistani bride who managed to escape from home after months of abuse from her husband and in-laws.
Over the course of six months, she was treated as a slave, deprived of food and water and banned from speaking to relatives back home.
She was often punched, kicked and dragged by her hair by her husband and even his mother. On several occasions, she was so badly injured she required hospital treatment. But staff failed to realise what was happening and allowed the husband’s relatives to act as translators.
For anyone who has done a bit of research around this area, stories such as this are not new. For me and many others, helping brides who come to the UK learn English is one of the key areas of empowerment. Yesterday the Commission for Cohesion made a similar suggestion – immigrants and brides coming to the UK should learn English to help integration. It makes sense, as Rehna Azim points out on CIF today, but it’s more important for me that learning English is seen as a tool of empowerment, especially for brides since they’ve come to a country where they have no one.
On Monday the BBC Asian Network will be airing a documentary authored and presented by me at 6:30pm on, co-incidentally, the very same issue. You can download and listen to the trailer. I’m also writing various articles that I will link in due course.
Regular readers will know that I’ve never been in favour of sweeping social problems underneath the carpet, pretending as if any discussion will demonise people and make things worse. If anything, inaction over these pressing issues makes things worse and means that thousands of women continue to be abandoned by society (and especially the Asian community) every year. That to me is more unacceptable.
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Filed in: Culture,Sex equality