The suicide of an ethnic Indian woman in New York – citing years of abuse by her husband for ‘only giving birth to girls’ – has sparked an angry conversation about the stigma in the community. “I tolerated everything, hoping he will mend his ways one day,” Mandeep Kaur, 30, says in a video shared on Instagram.
“It’s been eight years; I can’t take daily beatings now,” the mother of two girls, ages 4 and 2, says repeatedly, crying. Speaking in Punjabi, she accuses her husband and in-laws of having “forced” her to commit suicide. “Daddy, I’m going to die, please forgive me.” She died Aug. 3, according to dispatches.
From UP’s Bijnor, Kaur married Ranjodhbeer Singh Sandhu in 2015 and moved to the United States. His family in Bijnor today said they too had hoped the abuse would one day end. Now they have asked for help from the government to bring his body to India.
There has been no reaction yet from the husband or his family, and no news of any legal action against them in India or the United States.
Several videos of the husband apparently abusing her have gone viral, including one in which the girls are heard screaming and crying. In another, recorded in a security camera inside the house, she tries to defend herself – “I refuse to take it anymore” – but he beats her until she gasps in an apology. NDTV could not independently verify these videos, which it allegedly sent to friends.
In the video detailing the abuse, she says her family reacted after he “held me captive in a truck for five days”. “My father filed a complaint against him with the police. But he begged and asked me to save him… and I did. She also alleges extramarital affairs, saying her family “didn’t say anything…in turn allowing the violence.”
The video was shared on Instagram by The Kaur Movement, an organization that works for victims of sexual and domestic abuse, focusing on the Sikh community. Clips were also shared on Twitter on Facebook by several people, who commented on “the family and social structure”.
There are colossal problems in our family and social structure that we ignore or refuse to accept. #DomesticViolence against women is one of those serious problems. The suicide of Mandeep Kaur, an NRI Punjabi woman, is a wake-up call to accept the problem and address it accordingly. pic.twitter.com/F8WpkiLCZY
—Gurshamshir Singh (@gurshamshir) August 5, 2022
The broader questions are among the online and offline angry reactions.
Protesters demanding justice gathered outside his home in Richmond Hill in New York. Punjab activists also went to meet his family in Bijnor.
On Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, people from several countries – Sikh and Punjabi diaspora, in particular – used the hashtag #JusticeForMandeep. Many messages said that the company had let her down. Some people, in turn, have posted videos criticizing those who “make him look bigger than he is”.
British NGO Sikh Women’s Aid, which also works against abuse within the Sikh and Punjabi communities, issued a statement expressing its grief: “She describes a life of abuse, belittlement and violence.”