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Eastern Domestic Slaves by Their Western In-laws

The ever-lasting battle between mother- and daughter- in- laws has taken a drastic turn to levels of grave abuse. According to BBC, “even an animal isn’t treated this way”.

Hundreds of women have come forward and have attested to having been victims of “domestic slaves by their in-laws”. In 2008-2009, there have been more than 500 women who applied for residence in the UK, but were deported because they could not prove that they had been abused during the time of the incidents. According to data collected by Home Office, there were 240 Pakistani, 100 Bangladeshi, and 100 Indian women were granted permission to stay after their marriage failed and they applied to remain in the UK in 2008-2009.

Even though some of the women have come to terms with what has happened, and being “imprisoned” in the homes that their mother-in-laws reined, there was still fear instilled in them. One woman recalled “one day my mother-in-law beat me up really badly…there was a lot of blood coming out of my mouth and nose-I couldn’t tell anyone, call anyone, or go anywhere.” Said to be victims of “Cinderella syndrome” according to Sgt John Digby, a Lancashire Policeman, a women shared, “I used to get up at dawn and clean the whole house, scrub the floors, clean the windows, do the washing, cook…in between I’d have to sew.” Struck with so much grief, “staying inside all the time, not being allowed to watch TV or go out”, another women stated, “I thought I’d rather be dead than live like this” and attempted suicide on more than one account.

According Marai Larasi, the director of Imkaan, a national charity for Black and Asian victims of domestic violence, “A woman may not speak English, may not be aware of what’s available in terms of services, she may be in a situation where everywhere she goes her abuser or a family member – who may be colluding in the abuse – is actually going with her.” Moreover, issues such as lack of services for the women who have to deal with these issues are also to blame.

South Asian women are not reporting that their marriages are failing due to actual domestic abuse “at the time to a person in authority such as a GP or police officer”, and thus are being deported from the UK, even though she is entitled to “apply for indefinite leave to remain” as stated by the Home Office. In the last two years, the Home Office has recorded “more than half the number of south Asian brides who say they have been victims of domestic abuse in the UK have been deported …because they could not prove abuse had taken place.” , thus out of 980 applications, 440 were allowed to stay in 2008 and 2009.

Now the UK Border Agency is trying to take a more active role in order to “provide more directed support such as specific instructions, assessment of the quality of decision and training for case workers.”

There are about 20 to 30 cases a month that are reported to the Manchester-based Pakistani Resource Centre. Although when put into “context” there are 37,000 women who move to the UK on a spousal visa, the cases are in “small proportion”, but still is another growing problem because of the silence in the South Asian community.—MUNIA ISLAM

[Photo Credit: BBC NEWS]