Saturday, February 10, 2007

Shame by Jasvinder Sanghera

I've been reading a lot about this new book by English activist Jasvinder Sanghera and it is definitely blog worthy. You might ask how this book is related to health, but you will soon realize that health is integrally linked to the well-being of both our bodies and mind.

In her memoir, Jasvinder discusses the, what seems to be "controversial" issue of forced marriage. (Why it is controversial is unknown to me, when quite clearly we have reached a time in the progression of our culture to realize that the concept of forced marriage is not only unacceptable but also conflicts with the values upheld by the Sikh religion). It is a shame to read about the difficulties the author incurred while trying to stand up for what was the right thing, and it is a further shame that she lost the support of those individuals (namely her sisters) whom she felt inspired to fight for.

Her story is heart-breaking and tragic. I found this statement interesting, "By day I fought for the rights of Asian women," she writes, "and by night I craved acceptance from the very community I rejected." There is no clear consensus as to what to do because coming from a culture that is so integrally tied, women are deeply conflicted. Family and community should not be a weight - and often times, they are.

It usually comes down to a female who has to fight for a right that is so easily provided to her male counterpart. It is therefore usually females who have to suffer through the trials and tribulations of breaking the norm and bringing shame upon their family. Often times, it is these same women who are really striving to live by the values and morals set out by their religion.

Anyway, i am looking forward to reading the book - to be allowed to enter another's experience through their memoir is profound. But i hope this book spurs dialogue around forced marriage and the consequences it has on the well-being of our community. Everyone is affected by it - mothers, fathers, sons, daugheters, sisters, and brothers. Suicide rates and depressions rates have increased (the suicide rate among young South Asian females is three times the national average) and research has shown the long-term and damaging effects of that.

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