The family of a Sikh woman who committed suicide following an allegedly abusive relationship is fighting for custody of her two children.
The Print reports that the girls, 4 and 6, are in the custody of the father who they accuse of abusing the mother, Mandeep Kaur.
Kaur posted a video on Instagram just prior to her suicide alleging abuse at the hands of her husband, Ranjodhbir Singh Sandhu.
39,000 people have signed a petition on change.org demanding that charges be filed against Sandhu.
According to The Print, Sandhu told Pro Punjab.TV that the way social media is presenting his wife’s death is “misleading.”
Complicating matters in the custody battle is that Sandhu is a permanent resident in the United States and the family is back in India.
It’s possible the District Attorney of New York could take action, avoiding the need for a lawsuit.
Kaur’s family accused Sandhu of cremating his wife to hide evidence of abuse.
“By cremating her body, Ranjodhbir destroyed evidence. There was also a video from a few years ago on social media in which you could see him pushing her on the bed and beating her, while the daughters cried in the background. But the US authorities are yet to take action against him,” alleged Kaur’s brother Sandeep Singh.
The case has brought attention to abuse in the Indian community.
“South Asians are reluctant to reach out for help or call 911. A sense of shame and stigma overwhelms them,” said Kavita Mehra of New York-based non-profit for domestic survivors, Sakhi. “The idea of duty to the family is invoked and projected onto the survivor as a form of power and control. These social handcuffs stop women from seeking help,” she said to The Tribune.
Two in five South Asian women in the United States experience abuse compared to one in four overall.
“Relationship violence is about power and control, not about the economic status of the one being abused,” says Balbir Gurm, founder of The Network to Eliminate Violence in Relationships.
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