Body Evidence: Intimate Violence against South Asian Women in America

By Shamita Das Dasgupta | Go to book overview

5
The Aftermath of September 11
An Anti-Domestic Violence Perspective

MAUNICA STHANKI

The attacks of September II, 2001, temporarily paralyzed the United States, as Americans attempted to make sense of the tragedy and deal with personal issues of hate, fear, and sadness. In many ways, the entire nation seemed to form a support group and individuals shouldered the burdens of their neighbors, friends, and families. However, this collective support group was not always welcoming to members of the South Asian, Arab, and Muslim communities. These communities were victimized by the attacks of September II, and many returned to their daily lives only to be revictimized by their neighbors and friends (Iyer 2003; also, see South Asian Leaders of Tomorrow 2001). Victims of domestic violence within these communities were, then, re-revictimized as they encountered violence inside as well as outside their homes.

Domestic violence did not cease to exist in the aftermath of September 11; instead, many social service agencies reported that domestic violence in the Muslim communities increased after the day of the attack. An article in Newsweek attributed the increase to “the weak economy, an insulated culture and intense scrutiny from law enforcement and locals” (Childress 2003, 37). The Arab-American Family Support Center explained that the increase in domestic violence in the Arab community was due to the high level of fear and stress after September 11. The Newsweek article related the story of a Muslim-American batterer whose temper turned violent after the attacks of September 11. His victim, Lila (pseudonym), explained that September 11 “changed him from an angel to a monster” (37).

While the actual rate of domestic violence may have increased after September 11, several organizations reported an initial drop in calls from women in the South Asian and Muslim communities (Katz 2003). The New York Asian Women's Center (NYAWC) noticed that there was a reduction in calls from the South Asian community, despite initial reports of increase in domestic violence from a comparable group, East Asian women. NYAWC maintained that reports of domestic violence from East Asian women increased significantly in the immediate aftermath

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