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  • Who killed Navjeet Sidhu?

    by Sunny
    4th September, 2005 at 6:35 pm    

    A quick background: 27 year old mother Navjeet Sidhu jumped in front of the train in Southall, London, on 31st August, with her 5 year old daughter Simran and 9 month old son Aman, both of who also died. The suicide has shocked people, and she leaves behind her husband Manjit, 31. Condolences aside, as more facts are uncovered about this case, the question arises - why did she kill herself and her children?

      Possible explanations

    • Depression: Navjeet was pregnant with her third child, and some have speculated she wasn’t treated for post-natal depression after the last child. Could she have been driven over the edge?
    • Failed marriage: At the age of 20, Navjeet went to India and holiday and came back married. Her husband wasn’t from Britain - he came over after they were married. Was her marriage forced? It turns out the couple briefly split up last year and she went over to the United States for a bit. She came back more distant. Did she want out of the marriage but saw no way to do it?

    Before she killed herself, Nav called her husband to tell him that she was leaving, saying: “I’m going far, far away and I’m taking the children with me.” The husband made a desperate attempt to find her and was seen driving frantically in his BMW around Southall. According to relatives, she also said: “I love you but I cannot go on.” She was definitely unhappy with her marriage many say.

    How many others?
    Predictably the response from the media will be about forced marriages. The Asian community will be defensive but it’s a legitimate point. I know of many examples of young Asian girls asking for help because their parents want to take them to India/Pakistan/Bangladesh to get married. Why shouldn’t this be stopped?
    If some Asian parents weren’t so uncaring about the welfare of their children then this would not be a problem.

    The second issue is that of depression. When will we realise that this is a serious issue that should be treated? Depression should not be taken lightly, but too many Asian families dismiss it by saying - ‘they will get over it’. That depression has now claimed four lives and yet people will carry on as normal.

    As I find out more, I shall update the blog. The media is interested in the story but many have told me the only thing that remains is for her parents or husband to talk to the media with their side of the story. As yet though they are still in shock and are not saying anything.

    News articles on BBC, Guardian, Independent and Sunday Telegraph.
    Update:The government is planning to crack down on forced marriages, the Observer says. About time!

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    Filed in: Culture,Current affairs

    18 Comments below   |  

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    1. jamal — on 4th September, 2005 at 7:47 pm  

      It will be difficult to find out the reason as she it dead. An important area of enquiry will be whether her GP, or health worker noticed any symptoms, or whether they had even been in touch with her!

      I think Asian families need to communicate more, particularly when there are signs that a marrige is breaking down.

      All too many times the signs are ignored so that the elders can continue to hold their heads up high within their comunities!

    2. Rahul Verma — on 4th September, 2005 at 9:57 pm  

      It’s a tragic situation that raises a couple of issues that should be considered by the Asian community, and many other immigrant communities in the UK.

      1) When an arranged marriage is ‘forced’ because of familial pressures, women in particular marrying because of emotional blackmail exerted by parents and the threat of bringing ‘behzti’ or disrespect to their family name. Who is responsible for Navjeet Sidhu being born and raised in the west? Her parents. How can parents who made the decision to live in the UK, live by the values of the country they left many years ago.

      Our parents brought us here, to another country with a different culture and values, yet expect us to live and marry according to the values of a) the motherland b) the motherland of when they left a good few decades ago.

      2) As Sunny points out ‘depression’ isn’t considered an illness within the Asian community, that requires treatment in the same way as say diabetes or high blood pressure. Instead it’s ignored, and swept under the carpet, again for fear of stigma and sullying the family name.

      This is the 21st century and on both counts the Asian community needs to buck up its ideas and find ways of addressing and dealing with these issues - if a more enlightened, forward thinking approach had been in evidence with this case, then perhaps three young lives would not have been lost.

    3. Jagpal — on 4th September, 2005 at 11:50 pm  

      It is quite cheap to begin speculating on reasons and bringing the forced marriage thing into this without knowing the full details - another example of hoisting Asians up with the prejudices of the media over the dead bodies of a truly tragic and disturbing incident.

      You hear about this kind of thing every few months - of a mother or father commiting suicide and taking their children with them - and the last time I read the reports of these tragedies of white people featuring in these tragedies I never read in them allusions to indictments of the whole of white society - there is something squalid in the insinuations made by some in the media here - there is a definited tenor of Asian bashing in this.

      Let the family grieve in peace.

    4. jamal — on 5th September, 2005 at 12:50 am  

      I dont think there is Asian bashing here, in fact im sensing sympathy instead.

      If it is correct that she was leaving her husband, and it was due to marital difficulties, then the marriage situation should be investigated. Asians have too mush of a tradition of have such a close knit network on the surface, whilst underneath theres a huge amount of oppression, drug addiction, alcoholism and domestic violence.

      The other area I would be investigating is the role of the GP or health visitor. If this woman had a 5 yr old, a 9 month old, and was pregnant, she should have been in touch with medical and health care services. If she was…. did they miss any depression or signs of problems. If she wasn’t in touch with these services… why not?

      It is only be investigating these areas that the next one might be stopped. She was not ‘just another’ suicider!

    5. Sunny — on 5th September, 2005 at 1:00 am  

      Jagpal - why should asking such questions turn into Asian bashing? Are you disreagrding that there are certain aspects of our culture which do result in women being treated badly?

      Are you denying the existence of forced marriages, or people not dealing with depression?

    6. Jagpal — on 5th September, 2005 at 12:29 pm  


      You see, this response is exactly what I am talking about. This pointless aggressive accusatory tone and rhetoric when somebody points out that, hey, this kind of thing happens ALL THE TIME - and when it happens with white people - I never read suggestions that WHITE people’s culture is culpable for what is a HUMAN tragedy

      It is unseemly and in the circumstances of not knowing what was the cause of this - is pure speculation.

      The level of depression involved when a parent murders their own children is a pointer to a kind of psychosis and the response should bear this in mind - this is a clinical illness and bashing Asians and their culture in its entirety does not make things clearer.


      Yes, you make a very good point about the role of the health visitor/GP/midwife in identifying signs of her depression - which is another area that needs to be investigated - you see you have just demonstrated that out of a human tragedy a more nuanced approach and examination is needed than just lurid tabloid headlines about how the bloody backward Asians are to blame for this tragedy - such as Who Killed Navjeet Sidhu and assuming it is all a problem of forced marriage and all that - without even knowing the full details! Posing questions like this would demonstrate a willingness to think deeply about what this represents and not just give the impression that corpse hungry tabloids were ready to turn an unbelievable tragedy into an attack on Asians. In a couple of accounts I read a point that she was wearing western clothes when she jumped on the track - what the hell does that detail have to do with anything?

      And the next time a white man or woman commits suicide and kills their children I am going to compare and contrast the biases and assumptions of this case with that in the media coverage - hell if I have the time I might even google for past examples.

    7. Sunny — on 6th September, 2005 at 2:14 am  

      Jagpal - the accusatory tone is there because the traditional response from the Asian communty has been to pretend that
      1) It’s not a big issue.
      2) Happens to everyone.
      3) Focusing on it is racist.

      If you search for Christina Odone’s article in the Sunday Times, she makes the same point. Though she confuses arranged marriage with forced marriage.

      It happens all the time - but we have an unexceptably high % of forced marriages. Why not raise that point?

      Also, I admitted I was speculating. And also pointed out that it might have been clinical depression - another aspect we sometimes sweep under the carpet.

    8. Jagpal — on 6th September, 2005 at 2:17 pm  


      There is not really any point in me restating my position as you seem to have misunderstood it completely.

      Do you have the link to the article by Christina Odone though? She has personal experience of this - she was ditched by a rich Indian man who left her after a long love affair to get married to a nice Hindu girl - would love to read her take on it all.

    9. Sunny — on 6th September, 2005 at 3:54 pm,,3284-1765102,00.html

    10. Jagpal — on 6th September, 2005 at 5:10 pm  

      Thanks Sunny - quite a good article.

    11. suki — on 14th September, 2005 at 12:27 pm  

      I think there needs to be more done to help men or women in these different culteral marriages. Our elders do not listen that is very clear, Navjeet did go and stay at her mums but then went back to her husband.

    12. Richard — on 19th September, 2005 at 1:36 pm  

      There is another important issue here, which is not to do with ‘race’ but with gender. I have tremendous sympathy for this woman and the state she must have been in to do a thing like this. However, if she had been a father (white, Asian, black or whatever) the treatment of the media would have been very different, focusing on it as the act of a violent and abusive person. Have a look at recent cases where desperate fathers have killed themselves and their children and they are always presented in extremely negative terms. Where is the sympathy for these fathers? When men do it, it is taken as evidence that fathers should have less access to their children, when women do it it is because men aroudn them have made their lives a misery. Why?,1074,860900,00.html,3604,1045298,00.html

    13. Kiran — on 14th December, 2005 at 9:21 pm  

      Well you do have a point, Richard, some men turn to suicide… this happens in most asian families some men marry nagging wives, who sit on their back sides all day, and he is the one who is providing for the family and the wife does not appreciate it at all. . . BUT this rarely happens.

      However, the asian society is abit screwed up, there could be various reasons as to why Nav took her life,

      a) she could have been forced into this marriage,
      b) dowry could be another reason I know you lot might be thinking that what the hell is she on about but it still happens in this day and age. . . Always greedy for the materialistic things,
      c) she just had a child (9 months old) and was pregnant again well it makes you wonder is a woman there to solely produce kids???
      d) medical terms depression, there must be something that caused her to take such drastic measures which leads to another point,
      e) Domestic violence – come on we all know there are different stages of domestic violence, and surely most women are victims of it.

    14. Kay — on 15th January, 2006 at 4:37 pm  

      All of the views above are valid.

      However, everyone fails to examine ‘navjeet’ in this.

      Understanbly, she was forced into this marriage but she was an individual who could have said ‘no’ or have taken some sort of action i.e. by contacting the British embassey in India and obtained some form of aid/advice/protection to return to Britain.

      Statistically there are hundreds of young females who have been through such an ordeal. Although, a majority of them end up going through a forced marriage back home, a minority that rebel come back to Britain only to find that they’re disowned and marginalised from their communities. Yet without the support of their parents have managed to rebuild a life, have a career, and have relationships in which they’re happy.

      My point being that individuals (especially females) need to take control of their lives. Fair enough, your parents have control over you with the emotional blackmail etc, but ultimately you need to regain control of such situations.

      Agree, with Kiren, that there are several issues which could have led Navjeet to take her own life but such outcomes are linked back to the individual.

    15. Peter Pedersen — on 22nd February, 2006 at 10:59 pm  

      Very tragic indeed.

      Thank god we have legislation against these forced marriages in Denmark, and a government that makes it very difficult to get away with it - on danish soil.

      I am looking forward to seeing what measures your government and the communities will be taking in the future.


    16. Mary — on 24th February, 2006 at 6:13 am  

      Mrs. Sidhu was on medication for depression and had been for some time. Considering the dangers of these drugs and the suicidality they can produce, perhaps this is the real issue - which cuts across all boundrys of race, religion and sex.

    17. Peter Pedersen — on 25th February, 2006 at 3:55 am  

      It is possible, that this is the case here - we dont know.

      But it is a fact, that many forced marriages bring women to the brink of suicide or depression.
      Just visit a womens crisis centre, and see for yourself.
      There is an enormous overrepresentation of women who come from cultures where arranged and forced marriages are the norms.


    18. Bea — on 22nd March, 2006 at 1:08 pm  

      I agree with Mary. There are quite a few antidepressant suspected of causing suicidal or violent behaviour changes. Few of them are banned now.
      Here’s a little info on some horror medicinal drugs out there:

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