Disclaimer: This is not one woman’s story, but thousands of women’s stories. Using first person narrative, the reader is brought into the situation.
I grew up dreaming about finding my best friend in my partner. I was 19 and I started receiving compliments. My neighbors told me, “You are so pretty, a true Indian beauty and a legend.” I felt on top of the world. The number of compliments I received started increasing with each passing day. One day my mother came and spoke to me, just like in every other traditional Indian family, “We have found you a suitable match and he will visit us this evening.” I was nervous and excited, but could not make it through the day. The evening had arrived and I had met the man of my dreams. All the romantic stories I had read came to life for me and before I even knew, I was married.
My husband lived in the United States and I was ready for my big move to another country. I had found a new meaning to life and of myself with this new feeling of “being in love and feeling loved.” I had a new country, culture, and life waiting ahead for me. I sensed something different about my husband from the time we took off from India. He was a changed man in my new dream home. Being from an Indian family, values of respecting my husband and worshipping him were ingrained in me. He was always right and I was always wrong. From the time I was married, it was assumed that I had broken all ties from my family of birth and was reborn into another family with new parents. However, my new parents never even called me.
I did not know by being married I would lose both sets of my parents. I knew no one in this foreign country. I did not understand the language or even have clothes that other women wore. My husband would barely talk to me or take me out. I could not call my parents because I did not have a phone or money. I was a prisoner in my husband’s house. He forced me every night to have sex with him. There were so many days where I was in pain and I cried deep within myself. However, no one heard me. No one could help me and I was frail from being constantly objectified and viewed as a mere source of sexual pleasure. I sat by myself during the days, stared at the ceiling, and wondered to myself what would people who called me pretty now call me? I had wrinkles on my face, I had marks from the time my husband pushed me. I had become pale and weak. From what my culture had taught me, I believed that this was entirely my fault:I had not been praying enough or was not respecting my husband enough and that is why God was punishing me.
My miseries increased now by the minute and I was being victimized every single day. The most unnerving part was that I was not even aware of what was happening to me. I constantly tried to rationalize with myself and reassured myself repeatedly that this was normal and every Indian girl experiences this. I was here in a foreign country with my husband, knew no one, and could do nothing instead of making peace with my plight.
This is the story of too many Asian Indian immigrant women who relocate to the United States with their husbands. Have we ever thought about how and why the rate of victimization increases in such communities? Why are gender stereotypes designed in a way so as to celebrate men and subjugate women or instill feelings of subjugation among Asian Indian women? There are countless Indian women moving to the States each day and are being forced to live in unimaginable conditions. In a culture where suppression by men is the norm of the day, women continue to lose their identities and quality of life. This is how the epidemic of intimate partner violence is destroying the lives of several Indian women from time immemorial and the plague is constantly encompassing all facets of their lives.