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Navjeet Sidhu update - ‘familicide’?

by Sunny on 8th September, 2005 at 2:28 pm    

The story of one woman killing herself and her children continues to dominate the papers. Why did she do it? It’s like a media whodunnit? The only person to answer that of course will never be able to.

First, an update. The family finally released a statement on Tuesday. It turns out she was not pregnant. A week later after Navjeet, Ranjeed Singh Bithu, 35, also tried committing suicide at Southall. What the hell? He is still critical in hospital.

The Guardian today has an interesting analysis piece on the saga too, though it has nothing new in terms of facts. Some interesting gems:

While men who kill themselves have historically outnumbered women by three to one, the suicide rate among young Asian women is almost three times the national average.

Wow! Indian teens have the world’s highest suicide rate, New Scientist reported last year. The Guardian adds:

While some research suggests that cases of “familicide” may occur as frequently as once every six to eight weeks in the UK, they are almost always perpetrated by fathers, often men with a history of abusing their partners and children. Women who kill themselves and their children simultaneously are very rare indeed.

I used to watch her and think, ‘God, she’s a brilliant mother’, but in retrospect I think she could well have been suffering from depression. Her son was so beautiful, so stunning. You just wanted to stare at him all day. Maybe she thought, ‘Who will look after the children when I’m gone?’”

Debate about forced marriages aside, this case has highlighted, more than anything, the intense pressures Asian women come under, and how much they are ignored by everyone. Asian families ignore the depression, while social services might tiptoe around them in fear of upsetting ‘cultural traditions’. Is there too much political correctness over all this?

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  1. Shak — on 8th September, 2005 at 3:29 pm  

    “this case has highlighted […] the intense pressures Asian women come under, and how much they are ignored by everyone.”

    You’ve dropped a few “some”s in there. As tragic this case may be and as potentially widespread similar stories are, it’s as dangerous implying that it’s the norm as it would be ignoring it, and is an injustice to those that help Asian women, treat them well and, in some cases, save them.

    Apologies for being pedantic about semantics, but it is one way prejudice is propogated.

  2. Jay Singh — on 9th September, 2005 at 12:02 am  


    You said everything I wanted to say - thanks.

    I am uncomfortable with the way some of the discussion of this event has been framed.

  3. Sunny — on 9th September, 2005 at 12:55 am  

    it’s as dangerous implying that it’s the norm as it would be ignoring it,

    I’m going by the stats that Asian women are much more likely to commit suicide than women of other colours. Maybe someone would like to explain that?

    and is an injustice to those that help Asian women, treat them well and, in some cases, save them.

    Who are also usually women. So by raising the issue, suddenly I’m doing a disservice to the fact that we are not talking about the issue enough?

    I like that… quite amusing.

  4. jamal — on 9th September, 2005 at 1:34 am  

    I wish that in these types of cases, the proper facts were reported to start with.

    You have hit the nail on the head about political correctness. The various agencies “tiptoe” so much when it involves somebody of a “non-english” culture or religion. You’d think they’d just get an Asain caseworker, but no… this in itself would be classed as discrimination.

    currently in these types of agencies there are efforts to “understand” these cultures, when all they really need to do is primarilly deal with people as any other suicide risk, and worry about the cultural issues when they are considered less risky.

    Alas, with everybody fearing discrimination claims against them, it doesnt hapeen!.

  5. jamal — on 9th September, 2005 at 1:40 am  

    really i think the way forward is to have more asians in the relevant services that will actually speak up and actively take on cases that are culturally similar to themselves. The reason they do not is because they will receive no extra pay for it., due to the nature of government agency salaries. The other problem is the risk they will get all cases of a similar nature. However, there is nothing wrong with helping your own people!

    i have noticed that people of other nationalities and religions will have no problem attracting cases that are similar to their own background, but asians tend to shy away from this.

    lets think more about assisting others and a bit less about cash!

  6. Rahul Verma — on 9th September, 2005 at 11:29 am  

    is it really so out of order to be asking a question, on the basis of the stats quoted in the guardain (1 - that Asian women in the UK have three times the suicide rate of young men, historically the group most likely to commit suicide, 2) India’s teens have the highest suicide rat ein the world), that perhaps the structures of Asian/Indian families places huge pressure on their children (male or female, in India or the UK), some of whom buckle under this intense pressure.
    If we’re not prepared to even consider this propoistion, how can we as a community learn, and move forward and prevent this happening again.
    Hard questions, and introspection, are required. I’m sure any Asian family (or family of any ethnicity), would prefer to know that emotional/cultural/traditional values are making their children unhappy and amend them, rather than see their beloved progeny take their own lives.
    Whether it applies in this case or not, there’s no doubt in my mind that Asian family values can be claustrophobic, over-bearing, intense, cloying and suffocating.

  7. Soultrain — on 11th September, 2005 at 1:10 am  

    I’d say on average every week, someone attempts suicide on the jumping in front of a train in London. And that’s no exaggeration. So you’d be surprised to hear of how often someone is pushed over the edge into taking their own life, from various walks of life. And nearly all of these events go unreported because unfortunately they happen very often. The story of this woman killing herself at Southall station would also have gone unreported, but for the fact that she sadly took both her young children with her, made the tragedy headline news. And hence all the extensive analysis about her life, and her role as a woman and mother in an Asian family and culture, and whether that posed any difficulties that snowballed over a long period of time, causing her to despair in this way. And its right this question should be asked.

    In the same way that when you have other suicide attempts that for some reason make the news, the background causes of why that person attempted suicide is also discussed in depth. There was a case of a man of who committed suicide recently by driving his car onto a level crossing in the path of an incoming train. This caused a train crash which made the news, hence his life was taken apart by the papers. Also the countless number of times teenagers of any race commit suicide for being bullied at school, focusing attention on specific schools.

    So I don’t think that asian communities have been unfairly framed or negatively portrayed as having structures that contribute to suicides of asian women; its more of a case that there has been so much coverage, through a variety of outlets as in the UK we have several papers and news resources, it may seem as if they are being picked on.

  8. Sunny — on 11th September, 2005 at 2:36 am  

    So I don’t think that asian communities have been unfairly framed or negatively portrayed as having structures that contribute to suicides of asian women

    Soultrain - that doesn’t explain why Asian women have such a high rate of suicide compared to other women or why Indians have such high suicide rates.

  9. Sunny — on 11th September, 2005 at 7:56 pm  

    I misinterpreted your point by the way. I don’t think Asian communities have been excessively negatively portrayed, but I think its right we ask questions around why suicide rates for Asian women are so abnormally high.

  10. Soultrain — on 11th September, 2005 at 11:55 pm  

    To be honest, I don’t know whether social services are too politically correct when it comes to challenging issues in the Asian community. I do know they often deal with protection of women who have become ostracised from their communites and families usually after leaving a marriage shaming their family name. But social services could never be seen as the all helping institution its role suggests as its underfunded as it is. That’s the bigger problem than tip toeing around cultural standards I feel. Perhaps there are just too few charities and voluntary services that are high profile enough to make them available to Asian women living in despair.

    Arranged marriages should not be confused with forced marriages, where your parents decide who you marry with no say. And that I cannot agree with. Arranged marriages are more about your parents taking an active part in finding a partner, and the son/daughter has every right to reject a candidate. And I see nothing wrong in that. But if the parents suddenly get angry and pressurising, all of a sudden an arranged marriage becomes a forced marriage, which is not a good look. Hence the two can get blurred easily.

  11. leon — on 14th September, 2005 at 11:15 pm  

    This whole thing has left me too sad for words, I can’t imagine what her life must have been like toward the end to take this path…but yeah Sunny you’ve really hit on something there about the pressure facing Asian women. It is frankly digusting the way that they are treated by their families, the guilt and the emotional black mail they are subjected to (I know this is not true of every single family but know about this from personal experience).

    Fuck culture and fuck traditions; human dignity is more important. This is something that needs to be talked about openly…

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