Australia How demands for dowry and domestic duties can become weapons of coercive control

02:41  11 april  2021
02:41  11 april  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

Rethink needed to stop family violence

  Rethink needed to stop family violence A better approach, not just another plan, is needed to cut family, domestic and sexual violence, and a federal inquiry makes 88 recommendations.Ten years after the first national plan to stamp out the problem, the economic cost of violence against women and their children in Australia is estimated at $26 billion each year.

Shalini says she was under pressure to please her husband and his family at any cost. (ABC News: Peter Drought) © Provided by ABC NEWS Shalini says she was under pressure to please her husband and his family at any cost. (ABC News: Peter Drought)

Every morning, Shalini* had to be up at 4:30am to cook a hot breakfast and prepare lunch for her husband and his parents before leaving for work.

She would return home in the evening, and then the demands for dinner would start.

"As soon as I would come home, they would say, 'You are back so late. What shall we have for dinner?'" Shalini said.

"They didn't even have any compassion for me.

"I used to eat a packet of biscuits and drink a glass of water and start cooking."

She did not know it, but according to an expert, this is what coercive control looks like for many women in migrant and multicultural communities.

Muslim body in India seeks end to dowries, lavish weddings

  Muslim body in India seeks end to dowries, lavish weddings AIMPLB issues 11-point guideline asking the community to hold simple weddings following suicide by woman over dowry.In an 11-point guideline issued last week, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) asked the Muslims to take an “oath” to refrain from demanding dowry and keep the marriage ceremony simple without “needless rituals, customs and extravagant activities”.

A year on from the murder of Hannah Clarke and her three children by Rowan Baxter in Queensland, there is a push for a national definition of coercive control.

New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Victoria are all looking at best ways to criminalise coercive control.

Abuse 'shaped and fashioned' by culture

The chair of the Family Violence Psychiatry Network at the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, Manjula O'Connor, says domestic violence is more than episodic beatings.

"The essential nature of domestic violence is coercive control," Dr O'Connor said.

"What coercive control effectively does is it creates a condition, which is like entrapment of the victim.

"And there are many different types of coercive controlling behaviours."

Advocates see ‘opportunity’ in US review of Saudi arms sales

  Advocates see ‘opportunity’ in US review of Saudi arms sales Arms control advocates outside the US hope Joe Biden’s Yemen policy shift will spur their gov’ts to take similar action.The move, though short on specifics, was welcomed by US-based advocates, who had long argued that Washington should end its backing of the coalition due to reports of widespread human rights abuses and the conflict’s punishing humanitarian toll on Yemeni civilians.

She said some of the key factors were dominance and controlling to the extreme degree, like micromanaging and watching everything the partner did, intimidation and threats — which could lead to physical violence.

But Dr O'Connor, who has been researching family violence and mental health in immigrant communities for the past 10 years, said the tools used to dominate were different in multicultural communities.

Biden’s executive actions address a small part of America’s enormous gun problem

  Biden’s executive actions address a small part of America’s enormous gun problem Biden announced six executive actions meant to curb gun violence in America.Biden’s actions are significant but address only a very small part of America’s enormous gun problem. Instead, they represent an effort by the White House to use the limited tools the president has, given the difficulties in passing new gun legislation through Congress, to make some progress toward reform.

Any legislative reform must account for the lived experience of these women, she said.

"The nature of patriarchy is shaped and is fashioned by the particular culture that the victim and the perpetrator belong to — whether mainstream or diverse," Dr O'Connor said.

"In many of the patriarchal cultures, the woman is expected to carry out the household chores, completely on her own.

"And in a controlling, coercive system, this could become almost like domestic slavery.

The man who wouldn't be king

  The man who wouldn't be king They met as children, at his cousin's wedding. Philip and Elizabeth's paths would eventually cross again, but in the years before they became an iconic couple, the blue-eyed, ash-blond boy earned a reputation as a ladies' man and distinguished naval officer.The groom barely stole a glance as they walked up the aisle.

"She is required to work full time, but also has to get up early in the morning and prepare hot breakfast for everyone and prepare the lunches for their work tiffin and in the evening, come home, cook for the family."

Dr O'Connor said the women lived in a fear-laden environment where any challenge to the perpetrator's commands was met with humiliation, criticisms of her ability and making her feel worthless.

Told to 'adjust', Shalini's abuse escalated

Married in her early 20s, Shalini thought what she was experiencing was normal.

"If one day also I didn't cook food, my husband and his family used to tell my parents that I did not do my household duties and I am a bad woman who didn't give any priority to my family," she said.

"I used to think, 'Now I am married, so this is my life'."

When Shalini turned to her parents for support, she was told to "adjust" and maintain the marriage at all costs.

But despite "adjusting", the abuse only escalated.

"He was a control freak," Shalini said.

"I was independent. I was working. Slowly, steadily, very carefully, he managed to cut me off from my job by emotionally blackmailing me. He made me financially dependent on himself.

Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan pay tribute to Prince Philip: 'You will be greatly missed'

  Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan pay tribute to Prince Philip: 'You will be greatly missed' Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, have paid tribute to Prince Philip following his death, as they say the 99-year-old royal will be "greatly missed".The 99-year-old royal – who is the husband of Queen Elizabeth II – passed away peacefully on Friday (09.04.21), and following the tragic news, his grandson Prince Harry and his wife Meghan have issued a statement saying he will be “greatly missed”.

"I felt suffocated and trapped."

With no bank cards, the only money Shalini had was the small amount of cash her husband would dole out — of which she had to keep a strict account.

She said he started tracking her email, following her to her appointments. Failure to comply with his edicts would be followed by days, weeks and months of silence.

"The whole house would be totally silent," Shalini said.

"I was so scared, always thinking, 'What is he going to do? What is he going to do?'"

Dr O'Connor said many of the victim-surviors were on spousal visas, which made them particularly vulnerable to threats of being sent back home.

She said, in turn, the women were often under pressure from their parents to avoid the "shame" of a divorce in the family.

Dr O'Connor said if the woman lived in a joint family, the man's parents could also be part of the coercive control, especially when it came to demands for dowry and gifts.

Demands for 'adequate' dowry

Manisha* could not believe her luck when she met her future husband.

He presented as a kind, supportive and understanding man — an ideal match.

But once the elaborate rituals started, so did the demands for dowry.

After the wedding, the failure to give "adequate" dowry resulted in physical and verbal abuse.

Manisha was also expected to hand over her income to her husband.

Investigation finds Syria likely behind 2018 chlorine attack

  Investigation finds Syria likely behind 2018 chlorine attack OPCW watchdog says Syrian air force likely dropped chlorine gas in a barrel bomb on the city of Saraqeb in 2018.The new report by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) investigative arm said on Monday no one was killed when the cylinder of chlorine gas, delivered in a barrel bomb, hit the Al Talil neighbourhood in the city of Saraqeb in February 2018.

"As soon as we married, he was changed," she said.

"I was treated like a maid. Cooking, cleaning was my responsibility. There were non-stop fights about the money. He didn't let me study."

Her husband also started hitting her and sexually forcing himself upon her.

"I was not allowed to see my friends," she said.

"He became my shadow. I had to report every minute to him."

Being on a spousal visa made her more vulnerable.

Things got worse when the man's family visited the couple in Australia and joined in abusing her.

Manisha, who is now divorced, said for a long time, she believed her husband when he said the problems between them were her fault.

Calls for a graded system of punishment

Dr O'Connor said many women from diverse communities often failed to understand the difference between cultural norms around gender roles and coercive controlling behaviour.

That is why, she said, it was important to have conversations about what coercive control looked like in these communities.

It would also help police recognise the violence when they came across those behaviours, Dr O'Connor said.

While there is consensus among advocacy groups and survivors that coercive control needs to be identified and recognised, views differ on whether it should be criminalised.

Dr O'Connor said criminalising coercive control was essential, however, there needed to be a graded response based on the severity of the abuse, with a view to rehabilitating the perpetrator.

She said the punishment could range from counselling to prison.

"A lot of the women do not go to the police to seek help because they want to maintain the family structure," she said.

"She may not want to lose him because maybe she will lose her sole financial support or lose her Australian visa. An easy prison sentence would disrupt a lot of families.

"It would help the women approach the police if they knew that seeking help would not harm the perpetrator."

Now separated, Shalini is rebuilding her life.

She said the conversation around domestic violence and coercive control helped her identify where cultural gender roles ended and abuse began.

"After separation, I understood what I was going through," Shalini said.

"I was broken completely. I was shattered.

"Now, I feel very confident. It is okay to breathe free, just like a newborn child."

*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the coercive control survivors.

Queen resumes royal duties ahead of Prince Philip's funeral .
Queen Elizabeth II has returned to royal duties just days after the death of her husband Prince Philip. British media had previously reported she was determined to keep pushing on with solo engagements, and was set return to royal duties at the end of next week – also a few days after her 95th birthday.However, the Independent this morning reported that she already had taken up her duties, presiding over an official ceremony that saw Earl Peel stand down as Royal Chamberlain. © UK Press via Getty Images Queen Elizabeth is set to resume royal duties not long after her husband's funeral.

usr: 0
This is interesting!