Money over Emotion –Violence Trends for Asian Women in the U.S. and Globally

              The motivating force for marriage is universal – love. However, in some cultures beyond the shores of the U.S. and within, there are other equally powerful motivators like money. When money is in the game, an Asian bride has to be careful because the groom’s family could bite, torture, or even kill.

For women in America, there are endless varieties of abuse, generally thought of in relationship to the Caucasian, Afro-American and Hispanic communities. But even though this variety of madness challenges the liberty of so many of our citizens, the plot thickens when we realize that emotionally motivated violence, common in these ethnicities, is not the sole motivator of violence.  For other cultures, also residing in America, there are other drivers for domestic violence that reflect something different than purely emotionally driven rationalizations.

For instance, money.

It’s not the kind of money described in movies where some upper echelon families ‘encourage’ marriages between wealthy bank accounts. In some global cultures, marriages are arranged. It’s still expected that dowries will be provided at the time of the wedding and beyond in order for the woman to be safe in her new marriage and life. Such is still the case in many Indian marriages and the price for families who don’t pay can be torture, severe abuse, or death. In fact, a woman dies every 9 minutes in India under the dowry system, a system which became illegal in 1961.

Despite this legal mandate to stop, many families still participate in this tradition, however unholy. In fact, Indian brides are routinely burned to death though surreptitious plots hatched by the groom’s family- and thousands of other young newlyweds are subjected to physical, mental and emotional abuse aimed at extorting money from the bride’s family.  Talk about the wedding notes going off key! Although money, not emotion, is fueling this violence, the results are just as horrendous, if not more so.

Dowry deaths are not documented in the U.S., but domestic abuse against Asian Indian women comes from the groom and the groom’s family. It can be intense and safe passage requires watchful and informed eyes. According to the Asian Women’s Safety Net, there are resources available for help including special Domestic Violence Response Teams as well as a national database of Asian Indian support resources in 29 states. If you are a victim of domestic violence, make sure that:

  • ·you know where to go in case of emergency
  • ·you know your support system (contact numbers of DVRT, friends, counselors, local police)
  • ·you take into account your children’s welfare
  • ·you have an escape plan as well as a post-escape plan
  • ·you know who you can entrust with your important documents and belongings

The Asian Indian population is the 3rd fastest immigrant population in the U.S.  Asian populations are growing faster than any other ethnic group. In December of 2012, the U.S. had about 18.9 million Asians including those from India, up 530,000 from the year before (~3% growth).  Only China and Mexico send more people to the U.S.

Many beautiful traditions exist in the Asian Indian culture, but domestic violence exists in every culture. We need to break through from all this madness- generated by greed, emotion or by tradition. To this end, we need to be vigilant with eyes wide open and with a determination to protect innocent women of all cultures.

For more information on tips and trends to empower Asian Indian women, and build awareness across cultures, contact Seema Singh at 

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