Domestic violence and family culture


by Sunny
30th October, 2006 at 9:55 pm    

In India some belated attempts are being made to deal more harshly with domestic violence. There are some very worrying stats here:

Every six hours, a young married woman is burned, beaten to death or driven to commit suicide, officials say. Overall, a crime against women is committed every three minutes in India, according to India’s National Crime Records Bureau.

“We have been trying for long to protect women from domestic violence. In India alone, around 70% of women are victim of these violent acts in one or the other form,” junior minister for women and child development Renuka Chowdhury told the Press Trust of India news agency.

A survey by the International Institute for Population Studies showed 56% of Indian women believed wife beating to be justified in certain circumstances. The reasons varied from going out without the husband’s permission to cooking a bad meal. Domestic abuse is often denied by the victims themselves.

The real problem here is of course that women themselves don’t stand up against the domestic abuse or are pressured by ‘the community’ to keep quiet.

I was at a debate recently which was primarily attended by first-generation older British Asians. Eventually the issue of culture came up and many lamented that Asian culture was “being lost” or values were “deteriorating” amongst the youth. Rubbish, I said.

While it is true that young British Asians are adopting a more individualistic culture as opposed to family-led traditions, in many ways this can be quite liberating; epecially when it comes to exposing issues such as domestic violence, sexual abuse, dowry demands, sexism and more. In theory a more traditional and family-led culture sounds great; but in practice we see many social ills being swept underneath the carpet in favour of preserving so-called izzat. Where is the nobility in that?


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  1. raz — on 30th October, 2006 at 11:55 pm  

    “around 70% of women are victim of these violent acts in one or the other form”

    Bloody hell :(

  2. miraxx — on 31st October, 2006 at 4:00 am  

    Not surprised at all. Violence, especially against women, is widely accepted in subcontinental culture. Many a soap serial or movie depict violence against women as a befitting way of controlling or correcting ‘transgression’.

    >>The real problem here is of course that women themselves don’t stand up against the domestic abuse or are pressured by ‘the community’ to keep quiet.

    Women are conditioned to accept their society’s values and often justify abuse and their own subservient status, why is anyone surprised by this anymore?

    My own mother would applaud an uppity female getting slapped down.

  3. sabinaahmed — on 31st October, 2006 at 10:04 am  

    Even in Britain the number of women both young and old who self harm is very high. That being an act of desperation when people feel that they have no control on their lives. Depression and sucide rate are high too. So while India being the size it is, has such appalling statistics, we can blame it on not enough resources and the lack of will to take it seriously. But how about the progreessive UK? Why are there no suitable provision to address this problem?

  4. Leon — on 31st October, 2006 at 10:24 am  

    The real problem here is of course that women themselves don’t stand up against the domestic abuse

    Easier said than done given the phycological barriers at work and the very real threat of more violence for daring…

  5. genghis — on 31st October, 2006 at 10:29 am  

    Sunny,

    Asian values are being lost and culture is being lost. That much we can simply see. Doesnt require empirical research.

    in many ways this can be quite liberating; epecially when it comes to exposing issues such as domestic violence, sexual abuse, dowry demands, sexism and more. In theory a more traditional and family-led culture sounds great; but in practice we see many social ills being swept underneath the carpet in favour of preserving so-called izzat. Where is the nobility in that?

    err not really whether you lead a more ‘western’ (my word) lifestyle or not, the Issues of Domestic Violence, Sexual Abuse and Sexism will always be swept under the carpet regardless!

    And dowries in the UK have virtually disappeared amongst asians.

  6. sonia — on 31st October, 2006 at 10:43 am  

    yeah you tell ‘em Sunny! Good for you – as you say, it sounds all well and good in theory – but then what’s under the carpet we could all ask? All sorts of things that’s what. and all it leads to is a culture of lying lying and lying. so much lying that after a while no one can remember what’s a lie and what isn’t.

  7. sonia — on 31st October, 2006 at 10:49 am  

    i hear you miraxx . and i always found it amazing how a woman could be a vicious mother-in-law and bully her son’s daughter on the one hand, and simultaneously be complaining to her neighbours how her poor dear daughter is getting the same treatment from her mother-in-law.

    my theorizing is along the lines of ..people who have been previously powerless when they can finally taste a bit of power often go overboard. also, when people have learned violence the hard way, all too often they feel like they have the right to propagate it themselves : rationale being ‘well i went through it’

  8. sonia — on 31st October, 2006 at 10:50 am  

    son’s daughter – i meant son’s wife ..!

  9. sonia — on 31st October, 2006 at 10:56 am  

    well in my opinion there is no such thing as an ‘asian’ value – values are values. the ‘value’that appears to be problematic in my opinion is worrying more about ‘what will the neighbours think’ or ‘what will society say’ or overall, societal perceptions of failure, rather than your own well-being. and that ‘value’ ain’t restricted to one society or the other. there are degrees to which societies try to coerce their members into accepting this value, and differences in how it’s manifested. usually comes down to how success is defined. so here you may have people fretting about how much money they’re making or what their job title is. back in say the 60′s – women to a certain extent – were still made to feel that if they got divorced, they hadn’t been successful as women. And if you read between the lines in something like desperate housewives ( well its pretty darn obvious and spelled out per se if you ask me ) it gives you a good idea of the pressures on women in that particular society. the alpha mom business – serious competitiveness or what? and all in the name of?

    insidious very insidious.

  10. genghis — on 31st October, 2006 at 11:11 am  

    Soceital pressure pressure can be good and have positive affects on a community. Nuisance neighbour behaviour is eradicated for one thing!

  11. Sunny — on 31st October, 2006 at 1:16 pm  

    the Issues of Domestic Violence, Sexual Abuse and Sexism will always be swept under the carpet regardless!

    Not really. British society is a lot more open about it than Asian or even Middle Eastern societies.

  12. Gurpreet — on 31st October, 2006 at 2:35 pm  

    ”The real problem here is of course that women themselves don’t stand up against the domestic abuse”

    Are you implying that victims themselves are somewhat to blame for their situation because they dnt stand up for themselves? I think that is an extremely naive way to tackle this issue…women/men in any sort of domestic violence/abusive situation are often left feeling very humiliated and ashamed and coming forward/standing up for themselves is just not an option when you fear the repercussions-be that in many cases more violence or losing your home or your children. The psychological impact of such abuse is hugely underestimated in my opinion and i think the real problem is probably that there is not adequate support available for victims of domestic violence which would make them feel safe and empower them enough to pull themselves out of such awful situations.

  13. Anas — on 31st October, 2006 at 2:45 pm  

    Don’t know how safe it is to mention last nights Women only Jihad documentary, but I seem to remember that it claimed that the rates of domestic abuse in Muslim (or was it asian?) households weren’t that different to the rest of the country. Of course, people are less willing to talk about it in the Muslim/Asian communities. But an interesting statistic nonetheless.

  14. Anas — on 31st October, 2006 at 3:01 pm  

    Domestic violence is a very important issue, but what about the closely connected issue of violence against children?

    Here in Scotland you’re not allowed to smack children, but I know a lot of imams and teachers in mosque after-school classes are slap happy, especially if the classes aren’t held in public view in the main prayer area of the mosque.

  15. sonia — on 31st October, 2006 at 3:33 pm  

    yeah anas i agree – the violence against children issue is very closely related. in fact it’s of super-importance i’d say. why? well if you’ve had a crappy upbringing and are used to violence, you’re much more likely to be accepting of violence if you meet it later on in life, be more submissive, think it’s something you have to ‘accept’ without complaint, and generally have low self-esteem and find it v. hard to get yourself out of such situations ( cos it is hard to try and make that effort & low self-confidence will make it practically impossible)

    i don’t think that sunny was implying it was the women’s fault – hardly. and sure it’s easier said than done. but i agree that is the crux of the problem – and the hardest aspect of it to ‘deal with’. it becomes so difficult for someone to extricate themselves they end up staying in violent situations. that they should feel so helpless. it is a big problem. saying something is a big problem is hardly tantamount to assigning blame. but it is definitely significant and needs recognizing – if only to unpack why it is so hard and how deep-rooted the problem can be.

  16. genghis — on 31st October, 2006 at 3:33 pm  

    Not really. British society is a lot more open about it than Asian or even Middle Eastern societies.

    Nope, the indigenous population are as keen as anyone to hide these issues.

  17. Anas — on 31st October, 2006 at 3:46 pm  

    I disagree Genghis. Even if you look at popular culture and specifically TV, look at the number of soaps, dramas, talk shows, and documentaries that deal openly with this issue.

  18. Anas — on 31st October, 2006 at 3:47 pm  

    Correction: Even if you take popular culture…

  19. Jai — on 31st October, 2006 at 4:09 pm  

    =>”Not surprised at all. Violence, especially against women, is widely accepted in subcontinental culture…..The real problem here is of course that women themselves don’t stand up against the domestic abuse or are pressured by ‘the community’ to keep quiet…..Women are conditioned to accept their society’s values and often justify abuse and their own subservient status, why is anyone surprised by this anymore?”

    It just becomes a continuous cycle from one generation to the next. Many Asian women grow up seeing this kind of abusive behaviour (and/or may even be on the receiving end of it), and when the time comes for them to take a difference stance towards their own daughters/daughters-in-law, it’s as though some kind of “switch” mysteriously comes on in their heads, and all the lessons that should have been learned go right out of the window.

    I think there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes brainwashing that’s gone on too — regarding how to deal with “problematic” young women — and there is also a degree of intellectual laziness; older-generation Asians frequently perpetuate the same mistakes of their own elders because a) “everyone else” is doing it and it’s culturally regarded as the “right” course of action, and b) actually having to think for themselves and figuring out a different approach is regarded as too damn difficult — and it would also leave them culpable to make mistakes themselves, and they often sure as hell don’t want to take any responsibility for such miscalculations. Going along with “received wisdom” is easier for them and also allegedly absolves them of the responsibility for their actions & the resulting consequences.

    =>”Many a soap serial or movie depict violence against women as a befitting way of controlling or correcting ‘transgression’.”

    Those soaps are a horrendously destructive influence in my view — they promote the perpetuation of the very worst, most narrow-minded aspects of “traditional” Indian culture. Even worse is the hypocrisy involved — most of the lead actresses and the female creators of such shows are a hell of a lot less conservative (dare I say “more Westernised”) than the characters portrayed, and some of the actresses don’t even watch these soaps themselves because they don’t agree with the regressive ideas depicted.

  20. genghis — on 31st October, 2006 at 4:10 pm  

    Anas,

    Are you saying that TV is the indicator of how open/closed asians are in Britain about Domestic violence? In terms of being open i dont think the asian community deny it any more than the white. Ive tried looking for stats. The rates of occurance seems to be the same across the board regardless of ethinicty.

    I think this its a myth about being open/closed. besides the media here isnt owned by asians hence we can hardly use that as a measure.

  21. Anas — on 31st October, 2006 at 4:38 pm  

    Genghis, I’m using British TV as a measure and reflection of cultural attitudes towards domestic violence amongst the so-called indigenous community.

    There is a lot of willingness on British TV to talk about and portray these issues, more than is apparent amongst Muslim or South Asian communities, that’s all I’m saying.

  22. genghis — on 31st October, 2006 at 4:48 pm  

    I’m using British TV as a measure and reflection of cultural attitudes towards domestic violence amongst the so-called indigenous community.

    But the ethnic minorities in Britain dont have a ‘national domestic TV channel’ to express that openess and in all probability have other bigger issues to deal with.

    There is a lot of willingness on British TV to talk about and portray these issues, more than is apparent amongst Muslim or South Asian communities

    what a crazy notion. The asian communities hardly have access to national extra terrestrial stations on tv. I have heard this issue discussed openly lots on BBC Radio Asian Network and Asian Press and also in popular culture mags such as asiana and asian woman and snoop. There is no reluctance amongst british asians to discuss this issue. there is a reluctance to tackle the issue in Pakistan and India! That is a separate subject.

  23. Anas — on 31st October, 2006 at 4:56 pm  

    From my personal experience and other anecdotal evidence I have encountered there does seem to be more reticence in Asian communities with regard to discussing this issue.

  24. Jai — on 31st October, 2006 at 5:06 pm  

    =>”there does seem to be more reticence in Asian communities with regard to discussing this issue.”

    Reticence amongst the older generation, rather. They’re the biggest culprits with regards to “denial” and sweeping such matters under the carpet.

  25. Sunny — on 31st October, 2006 at 5:07 pm  

    There is no reluctance amongst british asians to discuss this issue. there is a reluctance to tackle the issue in Pakistan and India! That is a separate subject

    Those media outlets are primarily aimed at second generation Asians. The issue here is more with the first generation as I pointed out above. The issue is also with religious institutions who fail to tackle these issues.

  26. genghis — on 31st October, 2006 at 5:22 pm  

    Sunny,

    You’re missing my point, the way you’ve written your commentary suggests that if you’re more ‘individualistic’ and reject traditional asian values you’re likely to expose:
    ‘issues such as domestic violence, sexual abuse, dowry demands, sexism and more..

    Like as if the traditional culture is characterised by these issues and as if the culture is beset by these problems. these issues are being raised without having to reject the asian culture as a whole.

  27. sonia — on 31st October, 2006 at 5:27 pm  

    genghis: if you’re more ‘individualistic’ u might find it easier to think it’s okay to stand up gainst what’s going wrong with you – instead of thinking i have to keep quiet for the good of my society or community etc.

    societal obligations can sometimes mean that when people have to decide if they can put themselves and their own safety first, over the ‘societal good’ – they can end up choosing the societal good over their own safety.

  28. Anas — on 31st October, 2006 at 5:34 pm  

    I hope this adoption of an individualistic world view by younger Asians doesn’t presage the breakdown of the structure of extended families or the weakening of asian community cohesion.

    I mean that’s the one aspect of Western culture that most depresses me, the lack of communal feeling among people; everyone lives such separate and isolated lives. It’s probably been like that here since the Industrial revolution uprooted rural communities and forced people to live in cities. But(for the time being) it’s different in Asian communities, and that’s one thing that we should be applauded for.

  29. Electro — on 31st October, 2006 at 6:01 pm  

    Domestic violence is born of an imbalance of power realtions between men and women. The more power you give women, the less likley it is they’ll be abused.

    Women in some cultures, though, are complicit in spousal abuse in ways they cannot imagine.

    The mentality, for instance, that holds that women are the instigators of abuse due to immodesty is a big culpit. Women who embrace forms of outrageous “modesty” as divinely ordained, for instance, end up infantilising men, giving them no opportunity, no to mention discipline, that would allow them to learn self-controle and to fess up to their own personal reponsability.

    The males raised in such a culture become little more than life-support systemes for a penis. Such men have no self-discipline, they have no stamina or sense of restraint; they are unable to forestall reward by sticking to a task and completing it. They have, in short, a lousy or almost non-existant work-ethic and fill, thus, the ranks of the unemployed.

    Submissive females, consequently, are the death-knell of healthy, vibrant, ambitious males…..the kind least likely to commit demestic violence.

  30. genghis — on 31st October, 2006 at 6:03 pm  

    Anas,

    I like the last post. but your previous post. forgetting the asian culture for a moment and considering society as a whole.

    Should the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many?

    In star trek apparently the fucking vulcan was more important the universe!

  31. Anas — on 31st October, 2006 at 6:40 pm  

    It’s interesting because if you look at the messages that we get from advertising and the media, messages which are in fact prevalent throughout the whole of our consumerist-capitalist culture, the emphasis is almost completely on individuality, and one-upmanship. And that is empowering, especially to those who aren’t used to it. But, on the other hand, it’s clear such an overriding emphasis does in the long run alter how we see ourselves in relation to others, and the communities we feel a part of. The individual’s rights and needs take precedence over those of the community.

    This where I think differences arise in for example, how religion is perceived between different communities and cultures. In the West I think religion is viewed more like a commodity, where you can take elements you like from different traditions and discard those that don’t suit you especially when those elements clash with individual freedoms. Whereas in other cultures, religion is about complete submission to one set of beliefs and laws, and that may mean supressing individualistic inclinations in order to strengthen your faith.

    This clash of perspectives goes someway to explaining why a lot of non-Muslims commentators can’t accept that the veil could be and is worn by some women as a sign of their utter devotion to God and not as a sign of affiliation to Islamist politics or to proclaim their separateness from the rest of society.

  32. Anas — on 31st October, 2006 at 6:56 pm  

    Another interesting perspective and I think a question that is behind a lot of the stories on PP: to what extent is it true that in order to better integrate we in the Asian communities will have to give up some of the core values of Asian culture, those that set us apart from the majority.

    Personally, I’m interested in how this process is progressing in the Hindu and Sikh communities, since I have very little knowledge of them as opposed to Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi Muslim communities.

    I mean the Hindu and Sikh communities are clearly integrating far better than us Muslims, but at what cost, and how is this affecting religious faith and cultural values in those communities: how tangible are the changes. What about morality, attitudes towards sex, things like that?

    There is a lot of good in British culture, but there’s also a lot of bad, so it’s interesting to see how immigrant communities incorporate both.

    Oops, sorry, gone a bit off track. But these are the kinds of things that occupy my mind these days, at least when I’m not thinking about Zionism. (Joke, btw)

  33. Sukhjit Singh — on 31st October, 2006 at 7:56 pm  

    I mean that’s the one aspect of Western culture that most depresses me, the lack of communal feeling among people; everyone lives such separate and isolated lives.

    Anas

    Salaam. I think you are making the same error that white people make when they look at dysfunctional Asian families and think that they are representative of the ethos the family orientation and that it is the norm. It is not the norm. And neither is atomisation and loneliness amongst the nuclear family as is the norm amongst most white people. There will always be fringes that curdle. Amongst Asians the extended family system offers security, respect, unity, elders are never (or rarely!) abandoned to die miserable and lonely, everyone has access to material support to buy houses etc etc. But at its worse it can go wrong and result in a lack of individuality and even issues like this thread addresses.

    On the other hand the nuclear family has many strengths, taking the weaknesses like the abandonment of the elderly, the teenagers on the street at 11pm, anomie and loneliness as the norm is wrong.

    Striking a balance is what we should try and do.

  34. Sukhjit Singh — on 31st October, 2006 at 8:00 pm  

    I mean the Hindu and Sikh communities are clearly integrating far better than us Muslims, but at what cost, and how is this affecting religious faith and cultural values in those communities

    That’s a massive question that can only be answered in generalities. I don’t think that you as a Pakistani Muslim should have too much problems imagining it from your own experiences and with your own eyes — Pakistanis are not cro-magnons living in caves, they are facing the same issues as Indians, maybe not to the same extent, but they are, different degrees, and the Pakistani middle class is large enough for you to know that — I personally know Pakistanis who I went to University with who discuss these matters.

  35. genghis — on 31st October, 2006 at 8:18 pm  

    Sukh,

    The problems with pakistani muslim communities are well documented. One of the biggest problems/barriers to integration has been that muslim children go to mosque after school, whereas sikh/hindukids can get on with their homework which allows them to perform better at schools. Hence setting pakistani kids back. The other by-product of this is that muslims kids are far more likely to observe faith rules than other ethnic minorities, these ‘observances’ are seen as ‘barriers’ eg the veil. Secondly muslim teenagers are discuouraged from going to pubs, the core place to socialise in british culture, whereas sikh/hindu kids tend to mix in pubs and hence are better intergrated.

    Following on from all this, muslims are far more likely to stay in extended families.

    Bollywood (popular culture indicator, apparently) shows indians trying more western than westerners. It almost pitiful the efforts that indian music vids/films highlight how much indians are beginning to turn their back on traditional values. That includes the concept of extended family…how many sikh/hindu girls born and bred in britian are prepared to stay with in-laws? very few!

  36. Anas — on 31st October, 2006 at 8:37 pm  

    Sat Sri Akal Sukjit.

    Amongst Asians the extended family system offers security, respect, unity, elders are never (or rarely!) abandoned to die miserable and lonely, everyone has access to material support to buy houses etc etc. But at its worse it can go wrong and result in a lack of individuality and even issues like this thread addresses.

    That’s spot on. The extended family is like a comfort zone, it is familiarity, it is safety, which was necessary in what was at least initially a foreign, unwelcoming, and often hostile environment. I mean, why else do you think that many Pakistanis at least are so desperate to marry off their children to their first cousins, despite the genetic repercussions: it is so as not to rupture those family connections, to preserve that extended family. But I think younger Asians are moving away from that, and overall I don’t think the extended family structure can persist for long when transplanted to a whole different culture and social situation.

    I know I’ve made some major generalisations in my posts, but they are based on my own — limited — experience, both of living in a majority white council estate and of asian communities in cities across the country. Living in what is predominantly a white working class area of Glasgow I think, as an Asian I felt more keenly the lack of a sense of community. If it does exist it’s centered around pubs: alcohol seems to be the common denominator in most British social situations and I’ve heard sociologists claim it’s a necessary prerequisite for overcoming the innate British sense of reserve.

    That’s a massive question that can only be answered in generalities. I don’t think that you as a Pakistani Muslim should have too much problems imagining it from your own experiences and with your own eyes — Pakistanis are not cro-magnons living in caves, they are facing the same issues as Indians, maybe not to the same extent, but they are, different degrees, and the Pakistani middle class is large enough for you to know that — I personally know Pakistanis who I went to University with who discuss these matters.

    From my understanding of the statistics, Hindus and Sikhs tend to do better than the white population in terms of education, wealth, employment, and health. Whereas the Muslim community does considerably worse than the majority white population. From figures like these and from my own experience, I feel that it doesn’t hurt to sometimes differentiate between what I would term the typical Hindu or Sikh experience in this country and the Muslim experience — even though as you say there are many commonalities and of course there are Muslims who are doing well, and are well educated, and no doubt Hindus living in impoverishment.

    The effect the move away from the Asian identity is having on a number of young Muslims is that they are retaining their religious identity but spurning what they see as impurities in the practise of Islam by their fathers and forefathers: becoming more steadfast in their faith. There are several other interesting trends I see in the Pakistani/Bangladeshi communities. I am interested in whether there are parallels in other south Asian communities.

  37. Anas — on 31st October, 2006 at 8:46 pm  

    One of the biggest problems/barriers to integration has been that muslim children go to mosque after school, whereas sikh/hindukids can get on with their homework which allows them to perform better at schools. Hence setting pakistani kids back. The other by-product of this is that muslims kids are far more likely to observe faith rules than other ethnic minorities, these ‘observances’ are seen as ‘barriers’ eg the veil. Secondly muslim teenagers are discuouraged from going to pubs, the core place to socialise in british culture, whereas sikh/hindu kids tend to mix in pubs and hence are better intergrated.

    Yes, genghis, completely. I’ve thought all of that for a long time. You make an important point about Muslim children’s educational performance being affected by reduced opportunities for after-school revision. I wonder how much of an issue it really is.

    I remember talking to a Muslim taxi driver who was bemoaning the fact that quite a few of the young Sikhs/Hindus he’d driven had either told him they were atheists or knew nothing about their own religious traditions. Funny thing for a Muslim to worry about I thought to myself, but maybe he had a point.

  38. Sukhjit Singh — on 31st October, 2006 at 8:47 pm  

    That includes the concept of extended family…how many sikh/hindu girls born and bred in britian are prepared to stay with in-laws? very few!

    Salaam genghis.

    There is some truths in what you say but some assumptions too. The extended family is still very much the norm amongst Indians. As for taking Bollywood as your gauge or barometer of values, that fantasy realm, all i can say is that you shouldnt take those exercises in fantasy and camp as your template, especially given that in this country, Pakistanis are probably bigger, if not equal consumers of Bollywood, as Indians are! Anyway, if you watch a Bollywood film, you would know that they are actually highly conservative — the moral of the tale is – love your parents, the extended family is good, rebelling brings pain — they are very conventional on the whole in terms of their morality.

    Plus I am confused a little – I went to my friend from Karachi’s engagment party and there was no difference (uncles drinking whisky, girls and boys flirting, ‘aunties’ speaking English and discussing fashion) with that of an average Indian. Plus, in my opinion, in the last few years, probably partly in response to the increase in religiosity amongst Muslims, there has been a definite rise in religious feeling amongst Sikhs and Hindus in the UK recently too.

    Just because Indians do tend to go to pubs and socialise, doesnt mean that they are not also true to their culture – in fact things like the bhangra music scene or Asian underground clubs are manifestations of British Indian culture – integration does not mean assimilation.

  39. Sukhjit Singh — on 31st October, 2006 at 9:02 pm  

    There are several other interesting trends I see in the Pakistani/Bangladeshi communities. I am interested in whether there are parallels in other south Asian communities

    There is a sense of Sikh identity which is strong amongst young British born Sikhs, though probably not to the same degree as Muslims. The movement towards stressing commonality with the ‘ummah’ rather than cultural issues is the major difference – generally speaking, ‘ummah consciousness’ amongst Pakistanis/Bangladeshis might involve a distancing from their Punjabi or Bengali heritage. That impulse is not there amongst Indians, they take pride in aspects of their culture that they want to keep and might reject the rest — they love their music, language, things like that.

    The other issue is that Muslims have reaped the whirlwind of the last 5 years and events around the world give them that consciousness and feeling of being under attack.

    Whether or not the extended family system can survive — I can’t predict for sure, but it will definitely change and loosen. Instinctively I feel that it wont dissapear because it is so deep rooted. Even in places like Kenya or South Africa where Indians have been for 100 years, it persists amongst Indians there. Plus when there is social, racial or religious difference there will always be communal feeling. At a certain level, no matter how much you integrate, you will always not be in the mainstream totally.

  40. genghis — on 31st October, 2006 at 9:21 pm  

    Sukhi,

    Satsri-akal, I agree there are some assumptions/generalisations in view of sikh/hindu better integration and the cost of that successful integration. I also agree that the extended family is part of the mainstay of indian culture, however its a fast disappearing one. All my sikh friends (admittedly i dont have more than dozen of them)bemoan this. I took the bollywood film culture consumption as measure because apparently it reflects which way a particular culture is heading. Bollywood films and indian music vids are almost impossible to watch with family anymore. Well at least amongst pakistani families. I disagree with your conclusion with respect to the conservative aspects of the storylines. They almost always now in end in the hero/herione forcing their parents having to accept the situation. My reading of it is boy loves girls > parents reject > boy-girl runs off > parents accept eventually. You could argue this is what happens in contemporary britain now. Amongst the pakistani community, arranged marriage is almost reduced to smallest percentages of marriages.

    Your karachi experience is an interesting one. Pakistani contemporary society is heading into two definite camps; the progressive ‘forward’ thinking secularists who enjoy every excess you could find in the west, and at the other end of the scale, the islamists.

    Just because Indians do tend to go to pubs and socialise, doesnt mean that they are not also true to their culture – in fact things like the bhangra music scene or Asian underground clubs are manifestations of British Indian culture – integration does not mean assimilation.

    ~Indeed. i completely agree with new forms of music and scene, however, if you attend those function, and im in no doubt that you do, what difference is there between those nights and and a normal club night cept for the music? certainly the dress code isnt asian? and nor are the behaviours. Im not saying they should be more indian etc im just saying there isnt much difference left between contemporary british indian culture and the british white culture?

  41. Anas — on 31st October, 2006 at 9:59 pm  

    I think there’s something more than social cohesiveness that has been lost by the West over the past few hundred years. To quote the William Chittick an American scholar of Islam, I think there are “deep psychic and spiritual imbalances [in] our [Western] culture.” These are ingrained in Western culture, and are partially a result of a loss of faith and spirituality. Jung especially pointed this out last century, and part of his aim was to uncover an authentic European spiritual tradition based on Christianity.

  42. Sunny — on 1st November, 2006 at 1:21 am  

    will have to give up some of the core values of Asian culture,

    What are these core values you refer to? As for the issue of integration… it’s a very tricky one.

    Some stick to Asian culture as such; some integrate more by adopting more of British culture; some become more religious and shun Asian culture entirely in favour of pure religiousity; some adopt British culture and their religious identity as their main forms of identity, rejecting Asian culture too. I can’t make generalisations to be honest.

  43. sonia — on 1st November, 2006 at 11:17 am  

    anas, sorry to let you in on this – but all human cultures it can be argued suffer from ““deep psychic and spiritual imbalances” we don’t have to be social einsteins to work that one out. god why are we all so blind? ‘oh my culture is like this’ your culture is like that. ! the whole world shares the same crises – wake up and smell the coffee.

  44. sonia — on 1st November, 2006 at 11:20 am  

    all these funny people who go around saying ‘oh the West is so morally corrupt’ – have these people ever lived in asia and checked out our double standards? all we’re doing is pretending we’re not up to the same ol’ shit.

  45. sonia — on 1st November, 2006 at 11:23 am  

    it may be news to somepeople here that it is acceptable for ‘modern’ girls and boys in india or bangladesh ( i don’t know anything about pakistan) to say they don’t want to live with their in-laws. in fact it’s much easier in some ways because they don’t have the bogey of ‘ah you’ve become british! hai hai ..losing all your traditions’ nonsense to contend with.

  46. sonia — on 1st November, 2006 at 11:27 am  

    anas: a point:

    “explaining why a lot of non-Muslims commentators can’t accept that the veil could be and is worn by some women as a sign of their utter devotion to God”

    “as a sign of their utter devotion of what they think God said” would be more accurate. let’s not forget the minor point of human interpretation – shall we? :-)

  47. Sunny — on 1st November, 2006 at 12:20 pm  

    all these funny people who go around saying ‘oh the West is so morally corrupt’ – have these people ever lived in asia and checked out our double standards?

    I know. It’s well annoying when I hear that.

  48. Jai — on 1st November, 2006 at 12:27 pm  

    You don’t even need to live in (South) Asia to experience the double standards in these matters…..Frequently (not always), the more conservative/orthodox members of the Asian population, especially amongst the older generation, are hardly pious examples of saintliness themselves in terms of how they treat their fellow human beings. There’s a huge amount of hypocrisy.

  49. Jai — on 1st November, 2006 at 12:27 pm  

    ^^^I was referring to the “diaspora” here.

  50. Sukhjit Singh — on 1st November, 2006 at 12:33 pm  

    You know, I think that most Indians in the UK manage to negotiate their lives well. When you’re with family, you make adjustments, when you’re with your white friends you make adjustments. It’s no big deal. You just become able to deal with different situations.

  51. Sunny — on 1st November, 2006 at 12:38 pm  

    Gurpreet:
    Are you implying that victims themselves are somewhat to blame for their situation because they dnt stand up for themselves? I think that is an extremely naive way to tackle this issue

    Sorry, I meant to respond earlier. I’m not blaming the victims. But there are two issues here: firstly that much of the sexism and patriarchy is perpetrated by women themselves who don’t believe their daughters should question the prevailing system etc.
    Secondly there is the obvious problem where women themselves believe that domestic abuse is ok. the poll on top alone demonstrates that. My point was that these attitudes perpetuate the problem.

  52. sonia — on 1st November, 2006 at 1:38 pm  

    and the other point about ‘senior’ level women – interestingly a bangladeshi blogger (male i may add) was commenting on how he’d noticed that the aunties managed to bully/browbeat/henpeck the uncles quite well. i thought this was quite an accurate observation in as much that it appears ( to me) that when they are younger, women are expected to behave in a certain way. ( demure, listen to the in-laws + husband ( or actually that may just mean mother-in-law, etc. ) when they get older and become ‘matronly’ they appear to think they’ve got more power and some bully their husbands, their kids – or that lovely stage of = marrying the sons off so they have a resident slave – the daughter-in-law – so the cycle can begin again. dunno what other folks think about this. but at that ‘senior’ stage it often seems to me that the aunties often can be more domineering over the uncles ( who’re so often cowed they toddle off somwhere else to avoid their wives/and wives’ friends) and similarly, more ‘ticking off’ of the younger generation. i also feel the aunties at that stage do a great job of keeping up the social appearances pressure thing – more than the uncles.

  53. Anas — on 1st November, 2006 at 1:39 pm  

    My point is not that the West is more morally corrupt than anywhere else, I’m aware that Pakistan is and was one of the most corrupt countries on Earth. Rather my point is that a lot of people in the West tend to suffer deeply from the superficial tendencies of Western consumerist culture and a real lack of faith; I see that as the cause of the particular set of deep psychic and spiritual imbalances that we suffer. Again I refer to Jung, the title of one of his books sums it up perfectly: Modern Man in Search of a Soul.

    As for the core values I was referring to, maybe the veil issue is a prime example. There may be instances where a religious or ethical practice — one that may well be understood in other places as a symbol of devotion — falls within the law and yet is still discouraged by many in the majority community because it supposedly hinders integration or perhaps 2nd or 3rd gen immigrants start to reject because they want to fit in better.

  54. sonia — on 1st November, 2006 at 1:40 pm  

    the victims become the aggressors and all that sort of thing..

  55. sonia — on 1st November, 2006 at 1:43 pm  

    anas – “Western consumerist culture” – again – i don’t know you’re on about. as far as i can see westerners aren’t the only ones into consumerist culture. ever been to an asian wedding vs. an english wedding? :-)

    as far as i can see, my ‘british asian’ mates and friends back in dhaka and in india are by far the most consumerist people i know. try getting to any shops in the sub-continent around eid – it’s even worse than xmas shopping. all i ever hear when im back in bangladesh is why didnt you buy this why didnt you bring that. aren’t my relatives happy to just see me? often doesnt seem to be the case.

  56. Anas — on 1st November, 2006 at 1:44 pm  

    errr, I think it’s to do with there being very little sense of the sacred in the West, no awe, no “fear of God” — or its equivalent in non-monotheistic religions.

  57. Anas — on 1st November, 2006 at 1:46 pm  

    yeah, sonia, but again my point is that on the subcontinent, people may well be just as consumerist, but they still have a foundation of faith and belief.

  58. genghis — on 1st November, 2006 at 1:49 pm  

    Sonia: ‘all these funny people who go around saying ‘oh the West is so morally corrupt’ – have these people ever lived in asia and checked out our double standards?

    Sunny: ‘I know. It’s well annoying when I hear that.’

    G:’In the west, immoral social hedonistic behavior is the rule but is the exception and looked down on in SE Asia. thats the difference. Soceity accepts it in the west’

  59. sonia — on 1st November, 2006 at 1:49 pm  

    48. jai – yep :-) that’s for sure

  60. sonia — on 1st November, 2006 at 1:52 pm  

    yah genghis you know what? id rather people called a spade a spade and were honest. clearly we differ on that point.

  61. sonia — on 1st November, 2006 at 1:56 pm  

    well – anas – again, people can disagree on what a fear of God achieves. as far as i can see – it can range from all sorts of things – from complete nutcase behaviour to reasonable behaviour – or nothing.

  62. genghis — on 1st November, 2006 at 2:03 pm  

    Sonia,

    Your version of calling a ‘spade a spade’:

    Tom: ‘John get the Spade’, John brings the JCB!

  63. sonia — on 1st November, 2006 at 2:04 pm  

    ‘immoral behaviour is the exception in SE Asia’

    * rolls around the floor laughing. *

    oh and in any case i’ve been talking about South Asia rather than South East Asia- dunno much about SE Asia at all.

  64. Anas — on 1st November, 2006 at 2:05 pm  

    Sonia, you seem to be concentrating just on the effects that religious belief may or may not have on a person’s moral behaviour, I’m talking about something deeper, something that an excessive concentration on materialism robs us of — the sense of the sacred.

  65. sonia — on 1st November, 2006 at 2:06 pm  

    i dont think i need to say anything further.

    *wipes tears of mirth from off her face so she can get on with some work*

  66. Sukhjit Singh — on 1st November, 2006 at 2:06 pm  

    genghis – I am having problems with your definition of situating at the core of western society ‘hedonistic and immoral social behaviour’

    I have issues with it because it is so loose, ill-defined, and falls apart upon examination. I prefer to define aspects of western society as being deeply moral and ethical. Things like:

    (a) Respect for individual human rights

    (b) Commitment to equality in law

    (c) Sensitivity to the rights of minorities

    (d) Freedom of conscience

    You vilify the West in a way, characterising it as (metaphorically) a woman of loose morals, and define it as lacking something because of the lager louts on the streets. But I dont need to use the argument about the epidemic of cannabis smoking amongst Pakistani youths, or the wide use of alcohol amongst Indians, to show that hedonism is not a thing that defines Asians as different from ‘western society’ — you only have to acknowledge that the western society allows us to have freedom of worship, make our choices, live with dignity, and that the West is not solely defined by the excesses of lager louts and promiscuous teenagers. That would be like someone looking at the bad things in Asian cultures and solely defining them on that basis.

    As to the whole thing about the big wide gaping spiritual hole in British society – well yes, but this is something that westerners talk about themselves all the time, in books, and debates, and I dont know how much it helps to almost look down on others because they dont have the same level of religious observance as ‘us’

  67. Anas — on 1st November, 2006 at 2:14 pm  

    I’m not talking in terms of either/or or a Black/White binary here, guys. There are countless positive aspects of the West, but at the same time there are important things that the West *has* lost in the scramble towards modernity and consumerism.

  68. sonia — on 1st November, 2006 at 2:18 pm  

    yes Anas i hear what you’re saying – but i would disagree with the bipolar East/West split. in any case im starting to think ill be accused of derailing the thread so will keep quiet now. *grin*

  69. Leon — on 1st November, 2006 at 2:19 pm  

    but at the same time there are important things that the West *has* lost in the scramble towards modernity and consumerism.

    And they are…?

  70. sonia — on 1st November, 2006 at 2:19 pm  

    86 – well said sukhjit singh.

    and the loose woman metaphor is simply Marvellous!

  71. Sukhjit Singh — on 1st November, 2006 at 2:24 pm  

    but at the same time there are important things that the West *has* lost in the scramble towards modernity and consumerism.

    One of the things that Britain has gained in the scramble to modernity and consumerism is the Asian community who scrambled to get here and enjoy the fruits of modernity and consumerism :-)

    But seriously though, i know what you’re saying. But this is a condition of modernity not only in the West but in India and Pakistan too — everyone feels it. TS Eliot wrote about this very thing in his poem ‘The Waste Land’.

  72. Sukhjit Singh — on 1st November, 2006 at 2:29 pm  

    Why thanks sonia! And I wonder what the inverse of the west as a loose and immoral woman is? The East as an upright and sensible holy man?

    Being *shock horror* tempted to sin by the voluptuous charms of the temptress ‘West’!

    Tauba Tauba! Protect our purity from her! :-)

  73. Kismet Hardy — on 1st November, 2006 at 2:34 pm  

    bored of the east suggesting they stay in and fondle rosary beads and judge jews for the fifth night in a row, the west suggests they go for a pint. the west has a good old time, while the east sits there judging the west until it’s time for the west’s monster hangover and the east says: see?

    moral of the story: the western way gives you a headache but at least you tried to get laid

  74. Kulvinder — on 1st November, 2006 at 2:41 pm  

    moral of the story: the western way gives you a headache but at least you tried to get laid

    whereas the eastern way gurantees you a fondle or more whilst the west is passed out.

    Or maybe thats just me o.O

  75. Kismet Hardy — on 1st November, 2006 at 2:42 pm  

    eastern way DOES guarantee you a fondle! You’re right. I totally forgot about my madrasa teacher…

  76. genghis — on 1st November, 2006 at 3:56 pm  

    sukhjit,

    I wasnt stating that asians in contemporary britain arent part of the western hedonistic lifestyle, clearly the younger generations are. And im not criticizing the western lifestyle in terms of freedoms. In fact im one of them ‘muslims’ wot burps after a pint!

    Just acknowledging that there is a slide in morality in western culture in terms of social lifestyle. thats all!

    And as kismet highlights, aptly, there are hidden dangers in South asian cultures!

  77. sonia — on 1st November, 2006 at 4:40 pm  

    kismet – no. 73 LOL!

    yah sukhjit: “One of the things that Britain has gained in the scramble to modernity and consumerism is the Asian community who scrambled to get here and enjoy the fruits of modernity and consumerism” good one :-)

  78. soru — on 1st November, 2006 at 5:13 pm  

    It may be the case that 95% of anglos are deeply immoral, but we are only trying to balance things out with kismet.

  79. lost soul — on 2nd November, 2006 at 6:49 pm  

    Women’s condition in India will not improve due to economic constraint on women. Majority of women are over dependent on their father or husband to provide financial security. On top of that, the authorities are reluctant to support women in distress unless a third party ( ie, the media or a womens organisation) takes interest in case. So women find difficulty in addressing their views in fear of reprisals.

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