By James Hockaday | METRO | UK |
A woman who felt cast aside by members of her community after getting divorced is calling on other women to share their stories.
Minreet Kaur, 38, is on a mission to tackle the stigma of divorce, which she says women in Britain’s South Asian community unfairly bear the brunt of.
She fell into a deep pit of depression and barely left the house after ending her semi-arranged marriage after less than a year. Minreet says she would be in a ‘mental health institution’ if it wasn’t for meditation, which helped her let go of her sense of shame.
Now she has vowed to help as many other women as possible and is putting together a website called ‘Desi Divorces’ where people can share their stories anonymously.
Since opening up about the fallout of her divorce, she’s been inundated with messages from other women who have gone through exactly the same thing.
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At 27 years old, Minreet moved back in with her family after her failed marriage in Hayes, West London. She says she felt ‘ashamed of herself’ and couldn’t shake the sense that she had let down and embarrassed the family after moving back in.
Minreet told Metro.co.uk: ‘People who knew that I was married, the first question they would ask is how is your husband. ‘I literally didn’t go out anywhere. It was so embarrassing to tell people about the divorce. ‘You haven’t got anybody to go to, you can’t go to anyone in the community. They say you’ve got to try and make it work.’
‘It’s not talked about, it’s just brushed under the carpet. A lot of people label you and look down on you, they don’t really want to mix or mingle either.’
The freelance journalist says men don’t appear to have to deal with nearly as much backlash when it comes to failed marriages. She said: ‘You just kind of lose your right as a woman to meet someone. It’s different if you’re a man, you can be divorced a number of times and it isn’t a problem.’
Having tried to look for a new partner for 10 years, she has been told countless times by Sikh temples in south west London that only other divorced men would be interested in her.
Since opening up about her experiences she says several women of a number of faiths have got in touch with her. This the stigma is a wider problem for the South Asian community rather than one of faith – as most major religions accept divorce to some extent.
She added: ‘I want the community to accept divorce is here and instead of judge or label anyone let’s help them. ‘I want women to know their worth, they are beautiful inside and out and no one has a right to judge anyone.
Desi Divorces is due to launch next year – Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to share your story.
Read the full story, ‘I was shunned for getting divorced, and now I’m fighting back to end the stigma’ (Metro UK, 11 Sept 2019), here.
‘I’m divorced, so Sikh men don’t want me’ (Asia Samachar, 16 March 2019)