Sikh-Kiwi Jit Kaur Fights Domestic ViolenceFAIRFAX NZ NEWS
Domestic violence knows no colour, race or social status but it's an issue that hits close to home for Jit Kaur and her daughter Sonia.
Sardarni Jit Kaur, of Mt Wellington, founded the New Zealand Sikh Women's Association in 2002.
Former prime minister and friend Helen Clark asked Jit to establish the organisation after a murder-suicide involving an Indian mother and her child in South Auckland.
"She was a victim of domestic violence and she felt like she had nobody to talk to. The Asian community is not very open about these issues because it is normal, people are used to it and they don't say anything. There is nowhere victims can go and no-one they can talk to.
"They're keeping it under the blanket because it brings shame on the family," Jit Kaur says.
The association is based in Otahuhu and provides specialised support and counselling for migrant families experiencing domestic violence.
Jit Kaur's daughter Sonia lives in Glendowie now but was in a violent marriage in Malaysia.
"Everything is behind closed doors and domestic violence was a way of life. It is considered an issue which stays between a man and his wife in our community," Sonia says.
"My mum and brother and sister had no idea. When a woman walks out on a relationship it brings great shame on the family. My self esteem was very low and I felt like I was excluded from the family. My father didn't speak to me for 18 years."
Sonia says she also suffered at the hands of her in-laws. The abuse throughout her second pregnancy got so bad that the stress caused premature labour and her son was born with special needs.
Jit Kaur eventually convinced Sonia to come to New Zealand with her children and reunite with the extended family.
"It's much better now. I'm close with my family. I understand what it's like, so I want to help support and educate our community so that it doesn't happen over and over again," Sonia says.
Sikh Women's Association deals with about 15 new cases a week through police and court referrals or drop-ins.
Jit Kaur believes more victims are reporting abuse.
"Family violence is not only a husband and wife problem, it affects children and the elderly as well. We know the culture and we're used to the people and they know they can trust us. They know that if they see us at temple, or out in the community, we won't say anything," she says.
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Conversation about this article
1: Brijinder Khurana (Delhi, India), September 01, 2012, 4:42 PM.
I appreciate the efforts by Sardarni Jit Kaur ji. The problem of domestic violence is killing the self esteem of women all over the world. Basically, the females in the family hide the problems under the blanket just to save the dignity of the family, thereby making the man of the house a monster in his own "castle". It is essential that if every woman collect her courage to fight for her rights. Fighting for rights does not necessarily mean that she should break her family or dissolve her marriage, it means that she should not tolerate ill-behaviour from day one. Though Delhi may be far from where you are, however, any support, if required at this end, please feel free to contact me. I am an independent practicing lawyer in India and have good experience in solving matrimonial disputes and counselling for women in distress.