Breaking the Silence: The Unspoken Reality of Marital Sexual Abuse in South Asia

Sexual assault within marriage is a harrowing reality for many women across South Asia. This blog delves into the deeply entrenched issue, examining its roots in entitlement, the pervasive nature of sexual abuse, and its profound impact on victims. Through education and awareness, there is hope for change and healing for those affected.

When a Husband Feels Entitled to a Wife’s Body

In many South Asian societies, cultural norms and marital expectations often foster a sense of entitlement among husbands over their wives’ bodies. This mindset is deeply ingrained and perpetuated by traditional views on marriage and gender roles, where a wife’s autonomy over her own body is overlooked, leading to instances of sexual assault that are rationalized as marital rights.

A Personal Story

Sunita, a 28-year-old from a mid-sized town in India, entered an arranged marriage with high hopes and dreams for her future. However, soon after her wedding, she found herself trapped in a cycle of abuse. Her husband, citing his rights as her spouse, forced himself on her regularly without her consent. Sunita’s attempts to confide in her family were met with dismissals, as they advised her to be more accommodating and fulfill her “marital duties.” Feeling isolated and without support, Sunita endured in silence, believing her experience to be a normal aspect of marriage. Isolation and societal pressures compelled her to stay silent. Her story is a stark reminder of the personal struggles faced by countless women in similar predicaments.

Sexual Abuse is More Common than We’d Like to Admit

Despite the reluctance to discuss sexual assault within marriage, it is a widespread issue. Many victims suffer in silence due to fear of stigma, disbelief, or repercussions from their families and communities. The lack of open discussions and awareness contributes to the normalization of this abuse, making it challenging to combat

Examples of Sexual Abuse in Marriage

Sexual abuse in marriage encompasses a range of coercive, forceful, or manipulative behaviors that violate the victim’s integrity and consent. It includes but is not limited to, marital rape, forced pregnancy, and any form of sexual violence that leaves the victim feeling powerless and degraded. These actions not only violate a person’s autonomy but also inflict deep psychological scars.

Why Does My Husband Sexually Abuse Me?

The reasons behind sexual abuse in marriage are complex and multifaceted. They can include a desire for power and control, deep-seated misogynistic attitudes, or the abuser’s own history of experiencing or witnessing abuse. Understanding these underlying causes is essential for addressing and preventing abuse.

The Impact of Sexual Abuse in Marriage

The impact of sexual abuse in a marriage is devastating, affecting victims physically, emotionally, and psychologically. It can lead to chronic health problems, mental health issues like depression and anxiety, and a profound sense of isolation. The trauma of sexual abuse also extends to children in the family, affecting their wellbeing and development.

The Plight of Children

Children within households where sexual assault occurs are often silent sufferers. Witnessing abuse can lead to long-term psychological trauma and perpetuate cycles of violence. Protecting children involves creating safe spaces for them to express their fears and access emotional support.

Preventive Strategies

Preventing sexual assault within marriage requires a multifaceted approach.

  • Education and Awareness: Cultivating an understanding of consent and respectful relationships from an early age is vital.
  • Legal Reform: Advocating for laws that recognize and punish marital sexual assault.
  • Support System: Establishing robust support networks, including counseling services and shelters, for survivors.

Moving Towards Change

Combating sexual assault in South Asian marriages requires a collective effort to challenge and change harmful societal norms. It involves legal reform, education on consent and gender equality, and support for victims through counseling and safe spaces. Stories like Ayesha’s underscore the urgent need for action and awareness to protect and empower women, fostering environments where respect and consent are non-negotiable

Beyond boundaries: The complex journey of South Asian women in the USA

Crossing Cultural Challenges

South Asian immigrant women in the United States navigate a complex landscape of opportunities and obstacles, embodying stories of resilience amidst adversity. These women, hailing from diverse backgrounds, confront a myriad of challenges that span cultural, economic, and social spheres, reflecting the multifaceted nature of immigration and assimilation.

Culturally, South Asian women grapple with the balancing act of preserving their rich heritage while adapting to Western norms. The cultural dissonance can be particularly pronounced in areas such as gender roles, family dynamics, and community expectations, leading to internal conflicts and identity crises. Professionally, they often face significant barriers, including underemployment and workplace discrimination, despite high levels of education and expertise. These issues are compounded by linguistic hurdles and a lack of recognition for foreign credentials, which can stymie career progression and lead to economic vulnerability.

Social isolation is another critical challenge, as traditional support networks are disrupted, and new connections can be difficult to forge due to language barriers, cultural differences, and racial prejudices. This isolation can exacerbate mental health issues, with many women experiencing depression, anxiety, and a sense of alienation.

Solutions to these Challenges

To combat these challenges, a multifaceted approach is essential. Advocacy and community organizations play a crucial role in providing resources and support for South Asian immigrant women, from language training and professional development programs to mental health services. Policies that recognize and validate foreign qualifications can facilitate smoother career transitions, while cultural competency training for employers can help create more inclusive workplaces.

Building strong, supportive communities is equally important. Encouraging the formation of networks and groups that offer a sense of belonging can help mitigate feelings of isolation. Moreover, promoting cross-cultural dialogue and understanding within the broader society can foster a more welcoming environment for immigrants.

Conclusion

Despite these hurdles, South Asian immigrant women exhibit remarkable resilience and adaptability. They navigate these challenges with strength and grace, contributing significantly to their communities and the multicultural fabric of American society. Their journeys, marked by a relentless pursuit of betterment for themselves and their families, are emblematic of the immigrant experience and a testament to the human spirit’s indomitable nature.

Addressing the struggles of South Asian immigrant women in the United States requires a collective effort to ensure that the American dream is accessible to all, regardless of their origin. By implementing supportive measures and fostering an inclusive society, we can help these women overcome the barriers they face and unlock their full potential.

Chak De SoCal 2.0: Wellness, Cricket and Exciting Entertainment

RSVP for Chak De SoCal 2.0 Event

Join us for a day of joy, games, and spreading awareness at Chak De SoCal 2.0!

Date: 18th May 2024
Time: 8 am to 2 pm
Location: Tetzlaff Middle School

Whether you’re rooting for your beloved team or relishing in activities and delectable cuisine, Chak De SoCal guarantees a day brimming with enjoyment. And the best part? It’s all completely FREE!

To register your youth for the cricket match, please click the link below:
https://www.scycricketacademy.com/saahas-event/

This event, organized by Saahas For Cause in collaboration with the Los Angeles Department of Mental Health, the Southern California Youth Cricket Academy, and the ABC School District, aims to spread awareness about the connection between physical and emotional well-being through cricket. There’s something for everyone to enjoy with thrilling matches, nostalgic games like lemon and spoon, carrom board, relay races, vibrant arts & crafts, captivating dance performances, soulful music, singing, henna, face painting, and delectable culinary delights. Attendees can indulge in an array of activities that cater to various interests, ensuring a memorable and enriching experience for all.

Complimentary boxed lunches, snacks, and a selection of hot and cold beverages will be provided to participants and attendees, completely free of charge. The event is open to all, inviting everyone to come and enjoy the festivities.

We’re committed to breaking the stigma surrounding mental well-being in the South Asian community. We strive to create a space where everyone feels valued and heard. Join us as we come together to celebrate our shared humanity and promote a culture of inclusivity and acceptance. We highly value your presence at our event, and we eagerly look forward to your participation in this celebration of culture and community!

Know more about Saahas

A little glimpse from last year’s event

Cricket, entertainment, wellnesss, mental health awareness

Saahas Embarks on a Journey of Growth and Service at Board Retreat

On January 13, 2024, Saahas embarked on a transformative journey with its leadership and esteemed board members, converging from LA to a hilltop ranch in San Diego for the highly anticipated Saahas Board Retreat.

Kicking off the day with a warm welcome from Executive Director Payal Sawhney, the retreat unfolded with introductions, opening questions, and a nourishing breakfast. The session was enriched by insights from Mr. Navneet Chugh, sharing his wealth of experience, and Mr. Sanjeev Sehgal, the board chair, who shared his visionary plans for 2024.

Facilitated by Leslie Robin, Senior Strategist at the Center for Non-Profit Management, a comprehensive workshop delved into critical aspects, including current trends, core roles and responsibilities of board members, organizational challenges, and an in-depth overview of Saahas’s diverse programs. The active participation of board members in brainstorming sessions led to the formation of various committees aimed at supporting the executive director and guiding the team throughout the year. Reflecting on Saahas’s evolution from a startup to a growing organization underscored the collective support needed from each board member to enhance community reach and operational efficiency. New board members expressed enthusiasm for understanding board workings and the impactful contributions they can make to both the organization and the community.

A team-building activity of avocado, orange, and guava picking, with a tour of beautiful views, led to strengthened bonds among participants. A heartfelt gratitude to Mr. Raminder Singh and Ms. Hargun Kaur for their generosity in hosting such a fruitful retreat. The day ended with a communal lunch and a vote of thanks orchestrating this event.

Certificate of Appreciation Award

Chapman University witnessed a significant celebration as the Indian community gathered to honor esteemed business leaders. Among the distinguished figures recognized was Payal Sawhney, the Founding Executive Director of Saahas for Cause, hailed for her exceptional leadership within the South Asian community.

The event, organized by Professor PK Shukla, Professor Yatri Shukla, and the Shah family, unfolded on January 16, 2024.

The recognition bestowed upon Payal Sawhney underscores her outstanding contributions and steadfast commitment to grassroots-level work. Saahas, under her leadership, has left a profound impact, extending assistance to 3108 older adults, offering counseling to 467 women, mentoring 73 youth, and providing community health services to 33,500 individuals over the past year alone.

In an exclusive statement, Founding Executive Director Payal Sawhney shared Saahas’ overarching objective: to create a community where abuse victims no longer face desperate searches for shelter. The organization aspires to establish a secure interim shelter, offering sanctuary to victims and fostering a future where no older adult feels isolated or neglected. Sawhney envisions a tomorrow where the youth emerge as leaders and trailblazers, embodying the cultural richness of both worlds.

For Saahas For Cause, this recognition is profoundly meaningful, serving as a testament to their unwavering dedication to serving the South Asian community.

Newspaper link:
https://indiapost.com/flipbook/epaper09-02-2024/09-FEB-2024NEW/index.html#book/17

1st Spring Mela: A South Asian Festival. Celebrate the Vibrancy and Warmth of Our Culture! Free Community Event

Spring Festivals

hold immense traditional and religious significance in South Asia, marking the arrival of the spring season symbolizing renewal, rejuvenation, change and abundance. These are commemorated with great fervor and enthusiasm, each with its unique rituals, traditions, and customs.

Beyond signifying the changing seasons, these events honor the rich heritage and tradition, fostering unity, harmony, and a shared sense of identity. To embrace this, Saahas for Cause is delighted to extend an invitation to our inaugural Cultural Fest: Spring Mela!

Event Details:
Date: March 9th, 2024
Day: Saturday
Time: 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Location: Artesia Park
18750 Clarkdale Ave, Artesia, CA 90701

Entry is Free. Please RSVP at Info@saahasforcause.org or call us at 562-526-2508.

Be among the first 50 in-person registrants to receive a free YOGA MAT! Join us for kids’ activities, face painting, Brain Health (Memory) Awareness, henna, astrology consultation, informative & cultural booths, dance performanes, games, food, socializing, music, and an open dance floor!

Plus, enjoy complimentary bites from us! Explore additional food options at our partner vendor food stalls.

Event Flow:

In-person Registration Opens

Group Yoga Session led by Geetha Ram

Live singing by Priya Mani

Fashion Parade by LA India Fashion Week

Bhangra performance by Blitz Bhangra

RRB Bollywood Dance Performance

Community Folk Dance (Garba) by Zeel

Holi festivities with organic colors

Vote of Thanks

Let’s come together to celebrate the vibrancy and spirit of South Asian culture!

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Saahas for Cause Celebrates Cultural Diversity at USC’s Cultural Artivism Expo

Saahas for Cause, a non-proft organization, participated in the Cultural Artivism Expo at USC on March 24th, 2023. The event was a celebration of the cultural diversity present on the USC campus, featuring various art, dance, music, and food from different cultures. Saahas for Cause, known for its commitment to creating a positive impact in society, put together a great art mural that all students could participate in and make their own.

Embracing Immigrant Heritage: Celebrating Resilience and Contributions

By: Prizma Mehta

As we observe Immigrant Heritage Month, the South Asian population embarks on a journey of celebration and reflection. This month invites us to recognize and appreciate the remarkable stories of resilience and the invaluable contributions that immigrants bring to our lives.

The roots of Immigrant Heritage Month can be traced back to a grassroots initiative called “Immigrant Heritage Week,” which originated in 2004 in New York City under the leadership of Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Over time, the initiative gained momentum and expanded beyond New York City, eventually transforming into a nationwide celebration called Immigrant Heritage Month.

In 2014, the nonprofit organization Welcome.us spearheaded the effort to designate June as Immigrant Heritage Month throughout the United States. Their mission was to unite individuals, organizations, and communities in honoring immigrants’ experiences, achievements, and contributions. Since its inception, Immigrant Heritage Month has evolved into a movement that sheds light on immigrant stories and promotes dialogue about immigration issues. This month-long celebration serves as a platform to raise awareness, foster inclusivity, and advocate for immigrant rights. It allows people from all backgrounds to come together, appreciate the rich diversity brought by immigrants, and celebrate the integral role they play in shaping the cultural, social, and economic landscape of the United States.

Diversity: Immigrant Heritage Month celebrates the colorful tapestry of cultures that enrich our South Asian communities. It is a time to embrace the harmonious blend of languages, traditions, and perspectives, creating a vibrant mosaic of experiences. Each thread weaves together stories that transcend borders, inviting us to appreciate the unique contributions of individuals from every corner of the globe. In celebrating diversity, we discover the true strength of unity within the Immigrant community.

Resilience: The immigrant journey is a testament to the unyielding strength within the human heart. Immigrant Heritage Month reminds us of the courage and determination demonstrated by individuals who leave behind their familiar homes in search of a better future. South Asian immigrants, like many immigrants, overcome countless challenges and sacrifices as they build new lives, adapt to a new environment, and thrive against all odds. Their stories inspire us, reminding us of the boundless power of the human spirit to overcome adversity and create a legacy of hope.

Cultural Kaleidoscope: Immerse yourself in the kaleidoscope of cultural traditions that South Asian immigrants lovingly bring to Southern California. Their rich cultural heritage breathes life into our communities, from tantalizing flavors of diverse cuisines to melodies. Immigrant Heritage Month invites us to honor and celebrate the vibrant artistic expressions, lively festivals, and time-honored customs that grace our lives. Let us revel in the beauty of diversity and find joy in the shared experiences that transcend borders within the South Asian community.

Empowering Contributions: The impact of South Asian immigrants in Southern California goes far beyond cultural enrichment. Immigrant Heritage Month shines a light on their invaluable contributions to our society. Through their entrepreneurial spirit, professional achievements, academic excellence, and community engagement, they invigorate the economy, drive innovation, and create opportunities for all. Their unwavering dedication inspires us to recognize and celebrate the boundless potential within everyone, regardless of their origin.