British Asia News Network
London, May 13: Is domestic violence escaping justice in Britain’s south Asian communities as domestic violence is going unreported by women and children who are trapped in a pervasive culture of shame? Or are we moving to a culture where support is widely available and accessible and families are more supportive and educated?
Domestic violence is something which was in the past generations but today we still see that it resonates in some families. In the traditional families it’s still a little bit of a taboo where they may turn their head the other way. However domestic violence whether physical or mental is not acceptable and we need to reach out to more women and men and make sure their voices are heard and they know there is support out there for them.
Let’s start with some stats. According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) about 4.2% of men and 7.9 % of women suffer domestic abuse in the UK during 2018. This equates to about 685,000 male victims and 1,300,000 women a number that is likely to fall far short of the real figure. More than 40% of UK girls aged 14 to 17 have experienced sexual violence at the hands of their partner and an estimated three women a week commit suicide as a result of domestic abuse.
British Asia news spoke to Fareesha Campin, who was born and raised in the UK, lived in London for the majority of her life and now lives in beautiful West Sussex not far from a beach. She came through huge hurdles in her life which shapes the person she is today and she is proof and strength for women out there that you can go through domestic violence within a marriage and bring yourself back to life where you are in a loving relationship, your dream job and have friends and family around you who are supportive and proud of you. Today she is a Police Constable working with Sussex police, and working towards a specialist area.
What has shaped the person you are today?
“I was a victim of domestic abuse and that has made me become a stronger women, it’s not necessarily the reason I've joined the Sussex Police, I’ve always wanted to be a police officer but going through what I have been through has pushed me towards helping the vulnerable and helping people who need my help and its simply because of my experiences.”
She tells us about incidents in her life which left me emotional, listening and hoping we can inspire other women through her story that there is hope. “In brief I've been through forced termination, mental and physical abuse, pushed down as a woman, forced to live like a 14th or even 16th century women. I was made to be home on time, make sure dinner was cooked for my husband at the time and have it ready to serve on the table for him, it’s a very old fashioned way of thinking, that’s not what I’m like. No matter how much you try to push a women to be like that if that’s not who you are then you will always find a way out of it.
I got married at age 20; I was married for 3 years. When I came out of my marriage the first thing I wanted to do was get myself back on track and by that I mean mentally. Get my career back on track and get myself motivated to work hard again, when you go through something like that it doesn’t just affect you as a person, it affects your job, it affects who you are, your friends. You lose touch with your friends. I got my friends that I lost back, got myself mentally back and started making improvements in my job.”
Many of us understand the issues surrounding domestic violence, abuse, rape and forced marriages but fail to accept the seriousness of it. Our aim today is to create awareness in our society. According to the Domestic Violence Prevention centre, most women will, on average, attempt to leave an abusive relationship between five and seven times before successfully and permanently doing so.
Fareesha found strength and left and decided to take her life back into her own hands and rebuild it and as resulted decided that she could help the Indian community and others.
“From there I decided I wanted to help people and got touch in with my local community and raised awareness for the help that’s out there for anyone going through domestic abuse. I wanted to speak to the community that if anyone’s going through abuse, rape, being put in a situation which they didn’t want to be in, or forced marriage, there is help available. I wanted to highlight those charities and the existing help out there and encourage people to come forward and inform them that these are the people who you can contact and can help you. So that’s how is started, I also applied to be a special constable for metropolitan police, working alongside that met police enabled me to help the people out there and give them the right support that should of been there for me. I wanted to be that role model and be that face that people can come and talk to.
Was there help there for you what was it.
“I was lucky that I had family around me. For me I went to see my doctor about the medical condition I had. The doctor asked me if I was going through any stress, I opened up to the doctor and said this is what I was going through and the doctor identified I was going through depression. Instead of going on to medication through the doctor’s help I was able to reach out to my family and they don’t live in that mind-set that women should live in that back dated way or be abused in any way mentally or physically.
I understand that some people can’t go home and say to their family I want to leave my husband, and that’s where I wanted to step in. I was lucky but other women in my situation may not be, so I want to be that person whom my mum and dad were for me, the person to help and guide them through to come out the other side.”
There is a lot of taboo around leaving someone when you come from a Asian family its sometimes about reputation, bringing shame on the family, it’s about the community and what they will say and then women are forced to stay in their marriages.
“Coming from Asian family I had come home a few times and said I want a divorce and yes my family did send me back a few times and said to try and make the marriage work, me and my husband even bought our own house, but then there came a time, where I had to say enough is enough and leave”
What is the support around to help women in this situation?
“You can contact the police; there has been improvements in how domestic abuse is investigated. The police have been trained on how to deal with the issues. Reporting domestic issues is very different to how it was dealt with before. There has been a big change in how domestic abuse is treated by police forces, we pick up signs from an earlier stage. Different areas also have support networks where you can seek advice and help.”
When the question is asked about whether the police are culturally aware to help, Fareesha believes yes they are. “From what I am learning at the moment, background, and ethnicity cultural differences are considered and officers are trained to understand different backgrounds and sensitive cultural differences. As part of my training at Sussex Police, we will training in all faiths and beliefs.”
Asians normally have a taboo around speaking to the police, it is a huge step for an Asian person is to take the step and go out and ask for help, there are a lot of issues and consequences additionally that they will have to deal with once they take this step, are the police aware of this and can help with this?
“Having personal experience of having gone through this myself personally I knows how difficult it would be to just approach someone and ask for help and “saying the words ‘I was domestically abused’ takes a lot of guts. As I’ve said, the police training covers understanding of different backgrounds and cultures within the initial training before we go out on patrol.”
Fareesha’s family are very proud, as an Indian there’s a lot of pressure to grow up to be a doctor or a lawyer, but she never had this pressure. For Fareesha it was a personal goal to become a police officer.
“It’s a fact that we don’t find a lot of Asian women in the police force “yes it’s not a popular career path, I can understand that, long hours, it’s a risky job but the personal satisfaction you get out of it, and leaving that career behind was the hardest decision I had made”
Fareesha joined the Met police in 2013 as a special constable, she worked for a year and a half, and then she became ill and she had to leave and she moved away from London to get a fresh new start. Although she had a fresh new start in life she couldn’t think about anything else, for her it was always a dream job to go back to the police force. As soon as she got her health back on track, she applied again.
According to Fareesha, “the police force is trying to recruit from ethnic backgrounds into the force and it’s about people applying. It’s not just about arresting people or being there after drunken fights, it’s about helping the vulnerable when they need you the most. That’s my career choice and I want to go into child protection.” She recalls a time from when she was a special and helping a little girl. “She needed me at her most vulnerable time.It’s about that time when you’re the most vulnerable. A police officer has a huge impact on a victim, helping them in a compassionate way is crucial as they will always remember you and your actions”.
If you are reading this and are a victim of domestic abuse there is help, there are people like Fareesha who can give you strength and support to move forward and live a better life, the life you deserve.
You can contact various agencies for help a few are below to help you in the right direction:
Refuge against Domestic Violence. Help for women, children and men.
Refuge supports women, children & men with a range of services, including refuges, independent advocacy, community outreach & culturally specific services.
Women’s Aid & The National Domestic helpline
Freephone 24 hr National Domestic Violence Helpline – 0808 2000 247
Support helplines for victims of domestic violence | The Met - Met Police
Confidential helpline for male victims of domestic violence and abuse
Southall Black Sisters
Founded in 1979 to address needs of BME women empowering them to escape Domestic Violence, Forced Marriages, Honour Based Violence, FGM Rape.
National Centre for Domestic Violence
Its a really good article and there’s a lot of truth behind what she’s saying and it’s good that’s she’s using her platform to bring awareness on problems that Asian women and men face when it comes to these sort of situations. Biggest things are the fact that Asian communities don’t want to talk about their problems and they’re so worried about what other people will say rather than the well-being of people in their community 🤷🏽♀
I have worked with Southall black sisters and this is so common in the UK, I was born and bred here and thought it was something that always happened in the lives of people who got married and came from India but it’s reality in Indian families who live here and have children here. And it’s still happening it’s actually awfully horrible. And the people abused whether mentally or physically have to start there life all over again they loose everything. Some I worked with were then castrated by their own families too so had nothing and so many people commit suiced either duringnit and some even when they break free from it when it should be all over they take their own lives because they were disowned by their own families.
It is so good to read this story and know that even though there is still ongoing mental and physical violence unfortunately there are people who have come out of the other side and are brave enough kind hearted enough to help others in the sameness boat. I am proud to hear about women like Fareesha.