Indian Woman’s Video, Suicide in US Sparks Anger, Questions
An intense discussion about stigmas in the community has been prompted by the death of an Indian-origin lady in New York, who blamed her husband for years of maltreatment for “having solely given birth to girls.” Mandeep Kaur, 30, states in a popular video, “I tolerated all of it, expecting that one day he will change his ways. The mother of two girls, 6 and 4, continuously cries out, “It’s been eight years; I can no longer bear daily beatings.” She accuses her husband and in-laws of “pushing” her to commit suicide in Punjabi. I’m going to die, Daddy. Please pardon me.
Kaur’s family in Bijnor said they had hoped the abuse would end someday. “We intervened once, and even went to the police in New York with a video of him beating her,” the father said, “But she told us to step back and reconciled with him. She said she was worried about the future of her daughters.” Now the family has sought the government’s help to bring her body to India.
Several videos of the husband apparently abusing her have gone viral, including one in which the daughters are heard screaming: “Papa, na maaro mamma nu (Papa, don’t hit mom).” In another, recorded in a security camera inside the house, she tries to stand up for herself — “I refuse to take it anymore” — but he beats her until she gasps out an apology. NDTV could not independently verify these videos, some of which she sent to her family.
She mentions how her family responded after he “kept me imprisoned in a truck for five days” in the video documenting the torture. “My father reported him to the police. He begged me to save him, nevertheless, and I complied.
Asserting that his family “did not say anything… in turn encouraging the abuse,” she also claims extramarital relationships. The Kaur Movement, a group that supports victims of sexual and domestic violence with an emphasis on the Sikh community, posted the video on Instagram. Several individuals posted clips with comments on “family and social structure” on Facebook and Twitter.
Protesters demanding justice gathered outside her home in New York’s Richmond Hill. Some activists from Punjab went and met her family in Bijnor too. On Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, people from several countries — Sikh and Punjabi diaspora, in particular — used the hashtag #JusticeForMandeep. Many posts said society had failed her. Some people, in turn, put out videos slamming those “making it bigger than it is”.
Rajya Sabha member from Punjab, AAP’s Raghav Chadha, said in a tweet: “I have sought time from Minister [for] External Affairs to seek his timely intervention.” UK-based NGO Sikh Women’s Aid, which also works against abuse within the Sikh and Punjabi communities, issued a statement expressing grief: “She describes a life of abuse, belittling and violence.”