Lilas Taha is a Palestinian woman who came to the U.S. around the time Iraq invaded Kuwait. Shantha Raguthaman is of Indian decent. Neither are what most Americans might picture in their minds when they think of Asians. But their agency, Asians Against Domestic Abuse, covers countries from the entire Asian continent.
“We provide services that are sensitive to those backgrounds, through advocates who are trained through multiple languages who are familiar with those different cultures.“
If you include Middle Easterners as Asians, its understandable that a Middle Eastern woman who immigrates to the U.S. might not trust the system here, assuming that just as men treat women unequally in their home country they can do the same here. But both women adamantly say that’s not true. They say women are treated equally in those countries and domestic abuse is not any greater there than in the US.
“It is not the norm. It is certainly not the norm. The problem is no different than mainstream America where there is a power struggle and abuse filters into it. The problem is breaking away from that power struggle.“
Raghuthaman says it’s the media that gives a distorted view of certain middle eastern countries. So I asked her about all the stories we’ve heard about women being treated like second class citizens and men treating women like property.
“But isn’t that what they say about the Hispanic community? That the man is a macho image that is projected? Yes, but you hear its even worse in the Middle East. I don’t think so.“
The women did say that in some of those countries men are more likely to get away with abuse for a number of different reasons. Taha says their goal is to change the mindset of those women when they find themselves in that situation here in the U.S .
“They get trapped into thinking that it works the same way here so even if I call the police and try to reach out for help nobody’s going to help me. They’re going to side with him and I’ll be left by myself“
Regardless of where they’re from Japan, China, Iran, and Vietnam. They are women who need help. And regardless of what their culture does or doesn’t allow, the agency wants the women to know that here in the U.S help is available and in most cases the justice system does work. Bill Stamps KUHF news.