We need to talk about domestic violence

Hiding domestic violence under the "carpet" will not get rid of the problem. If we don't talk about difficult matters, then who will? - DR JASHPAL KAUR BHATT


| Malaysia | 26 June 2017 | Asia Samachar |


By Dr Jashpal Kaur Bhatt

A recent conversation with a friend has prompted me to consider the importance of creating gender awareness on issues that impact on Sikh women in Malaysia, particularly domestic violence.

Many people consider domestic violence to be a sensitive issue. Domestic violence affects people, primarily women, across the board whatever their religion, race and social status. It is a sensitive matter because its impact is catastrophic to the persons affected by it and the community they live in.

Yet, it is precisely because of its insidious nature that we need to talk about it. Hiding it under the “carpet” so to speak will not get rid of the problem. If we don’t talk about difficult matters, then who will? Talking about it to women creates gender awareness about this issue, particularly its impact on women, the children and the family members.

SEE ALSO: Sikh women – know your rights

SEE ALSO: Kaur Project: Recognising and celebrating Sikh women 

This gender awareness will in turn create gender empowerment. How? Information or knowledge about domestic violence will help women to understand why it happens, how to get help and how to deal with the perpetrator(s). There is nothing especially sensitive about domestic violence when we see it for what it is – power and control. Not talking about domestic violence simply reinforces victimisation, making the victim feel helpless and hopeless.

It is amazing that, in this day and age, we are still struggling to talk about women’s issues. Women’s issues are at the core of society and so women and men need to be made aware of the issues that impact on them and what they can, as ordinary people, do about them. The concern that talking about domestic violence will upset some women or men, or that women will take action against their husbands or family members and so break up the family, is unwarranted.

Is it better for the children to see what is happening, to feel helpless and in turn, create an inter-generational cycle of domestic violence? Is it better to allow the women victims to continue to suffer the trauma of domestic violence? The writer has attached the following chart of the wheel of violence that explains domestic violence, as an example of one way to create awareness about it. See here.

WHEEL OF VIOLENCE: Understanding domestic violence. Source: Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs: Home of the Duluth Model

I think it’s time for us to take a serious look at the need to address women’s issues by providing the space and opportunity for discussion. Domestic violence is only one such issue. There are many others.

In this respect, EKTA, the Sikh women’s group’s initiative to publish a book on the rights of Sikh women in respect of various matters that affect them, including domestic violence, is surely a step in the right direction. Gender awareness creates gender empowerment!

Dr Jashpal Kaur a/p Kulwant Singh (Bhatt) is a Senior Lecturer of the Faculty of Law at Universiti Teknologi MARA, Shah Alam.


[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE! Visit our website: www.asiasamachar.com]


Sikh women – know your rights (Asia Samachar, 17 April 2017)

Kaur Project: Recognising and celebrating Sikh women (Asia Samachar, 2 March 2017)