A Witness in a Culture of Complicity – Part 1

Blogged by:Mewa Singh

I haven’t written in quite a bit of time. Once in a while I share personal pieces, but as I like to protect my privacy I don’t do it too often.

However, this one is fresh (occurring just this weekend) and in some way I am soliciting the readers’ opinions as I set about my next course of action. A friend suggested that I share the story as maybe it will resonate with other males or females that ever find themselves in this position and spark a wider conversation about complicity and duties in our community.

Here goes….

Currently I am studying abroad and while here in this country have become “cool” with some kabootars or transitory migrants that are here illegally from Punjab in hope of getting to the UK.

Last night they had a new friend that they had recently made. Like the other two that I have come to know, he was from the Doaba area and was seeking to make it to Western Europe.

I sometimes hang out with these guys on the weekend as it passes the time. One is a really nice guy and the other, well, I just don’t have much in common with him as he is almost always intoxicated and only talks about his new ‘schemes’ to make it in Europe and his various sexual ‘conquests’ along the way. The new friend is like the latter one.

When I arrived at their house over the weekend in the evening, the new one was having sex with his ‘girlfriend.’ Later, he came outside into the living room of the apartment and started drinking with the other two guys. Eventually the other guys went to sleep and I was with him, amusing him by listening to his ‘grand strategy’ to come to Canada.

He left me, saying he was going to go back to his girlfriend and do it again. As it was late, I was just going to crash there on the couch. Then, I heard her screaming.

For some reason I didn’t react right away. It went on for I don’t know how many more minutes. Then I rushed the door. I saw him on top of her hitting her while she was clutching the blanket.

I ran to him and started yelling and then yanked him by the shoulders on to the ground. He started yelling at me to leave or he would kill me.

I said not without you. So I grabbed him and dragged him out as he was struggling. Outside the room, he was trying to tell me that she hit him first. I responded that I didn’t care.

She began putting on her clothes and I ordered the guy to go into the bathroom and not come out until I told him to under threat of me physically hurting him.

The girl was bawling; all I could do was walk her to the cab, give her a hug, and just keep on apologizing to her. After that, I walked home.

I went home with my adrenaline was racing and angry at myself for not reacting faster. Why did I hesitate? Why didn’t I just beat him up? I still sort of feel guilty.

More importantly, what next? I want to say something to him. What should I say? Guys, if you have ever been in this situation, what did you say? What did you do? And YES, I believe that even in marriage (or any relationship), if you have sex with your significant other without her willful consent, it is rape, contrary to what strains of people in Afghanistan and even other male voices in our own community believe.

Ladies, what would you want me to say? What would you want me to do? I turn it to the TLH Sangat for their advice.


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18 Responses to “A Witness in a Culture of Complicity – Part 1”

  1. Reema says:

    Mewa,

    Thanks for sharing such an awful experience. Too often we're afraid to talk about this violence, contributing to it through silence, in a way.

    Since you've solicited opinions on what women would want you to say or do, I'll offer mine. I hope you (or you and the nice friend) could attempt to re-educate this guy. Whatever he's learned about women and his own sense of entitlement to women's bodies in the past, he needs an awakening and to recognize his perversity. It takes an amazing amount of disregard for a woman's rights and humanity to hit someone like that. And doing so with other people in the apartment shows that he thinks it's ok. I'm truly afraid for the next women in his path.

  2. Reema says:

    Mewa,

    Thanks for sharing such an awful experience. Too often we’re afraid to talk about this violence, contributing to it through silence, in a way.

    Since you’ve solicited opinions on what women would want you to say or do, I’ll offer mine. I hope you (or you and the nice friend) could attempt to re-educate this guy. Whatever he’s learned about women and his own sense of entitlement to women’s bodies in the past, he needs an awakening and to recognize his perversity. It takes an amazing amount of disregard for a woman’s rights and humanity to hit someone like that. And doing so with other people in the apartment shows that he thinks it’s ok. I’m truly afraid for the next women in his path.

  3. baingandabhartha says:

    Although I highly doubt that this guy (the perp) is going to be amenable to 'education' of anykind, I do feel that he deserves a chance. Maybe you should atleast call him and ask him (when he is sober) of what he thinks about the other night. That will clue you in-if the guy has any decency in him there will be some remorse and that might lead to education and hopefully better his mindset. If there is no remorse, i would not waste my time.

    In any case, i dont think you should have beat him. Then there would be no chance for reconciliation. You can always beat him later but cant take it back once handed out. Although I admit that it would have served him right!

  4. baingandabhartha says:

    Although I highly doubt that this guy (the perp) is going to be amenable to ‘education’ of anykind, I do feel that he deserves a chance. Maybe you should atleast call him and ask him (when he is sober) of what he thinks about the other night. That will clue you in-if the guy has any decency in him there will be some remorse and that might lead to education and hopefully better his mindset. If there is no remorse, i would not waste my time.

    In any case, i dont think you should have beat him. Then there would be no chance for reconciliation. You can always beat him later but cant take it back once handed out. Although I admit that it would have served him right!

  5. Suki says:

    Currently I am studying abroad and while here in this country have become “cool” with some kabootars or transitory migrants that are here illegally from Punjab in hope of getting to the UK.

    Last night they had a new friend that they had recently made. Like the other two that I have come to know, he was from the Doaba area and was seeking to make it to Western Europe.

    I just don’t have much in common with him as he is almost always intoxicated and only talks about his new ’schemes’ to make it in Europe.I was with him, amusing him by listening to his ‘grand strategy’ to come to Canada.

    Here a crazy idea, how about try to immigrate the right way to a western country. I have lost count at how many different stories I have heard from people have come to the west from the Punjab the wrong way.

    When people lie and cheat to come to the west, what makes you think that they will respect the other laws of the country they will now live in.

    Its because of all the immigration fraud out of punjab, its very hard to get visa vistor now from there.

  6. Suki says:

    Currently I am studying abroad and while here in this country have become cool with some kabootars or transitory migrants that are here illegally from Punjab in hope of getting to the UK.
    Last night they had a new friend that they had recently made. Like the other two that I have come to know, he was from the Doaba area and was seeking to make it to Western Europe.
    I just dont have much in common with him as he is almost always intoxicated and only talks about his new schemes to make it in Europe.I was with him, amusing him by listening to his grand strategy to come to Canada.

    Here a crazy idea, how about try to immigrate the right way to a western country. I have lost count at how many different stories I have heard from people have come to the west from the Punjab the wrong way.

    When people lie and cheat to come to the west, what makes you think that they will respect the other laws of the country they will now live in.

    Its because of all the immigration fraud out of punjab, its very hard to get visa vistor now from there.

  7. Reema says:

    Suki,

    I'm so sorry it's hard to get a visitor visa, my heart goes out to the visitor visa applicants. (I hope you can hear my sarcasm.) Way to miss the point of the post. This isn't about immigration or any law. It's about physical violence against a woman in a vulnerable position. The law doesn't create the wrongness of his act.

    BDB,

    If there's no decency left in him, then shouldn't he be reported to authorities and punished (and at least be sent back to Punjab if the woman can't be found anymore to report him)? Why should he be left to go on his way to abuse other women- as if what he did is fine and acceptable? Is it not worth the time to bother to set men who physically hit women straight? Or at least to attempt to do so?

  8. Reema says:

    Suki,

    I’m so sorry it’s hard to get a visitor visa, my heart goes out to the visitor visa applicants. (I hope you can hear my sarcasm.) Way to miss the point of the post. This isn’t about immigration or any law. It’s about physical violence against a woman in a vulnerable position. The law doesn’t create the wrongness of his act.

    BDB,

    If there’s no decency left in him, then shouldn’t he be reported to authorities and punished (and at least be sent back to Punjab if the woman can’t be found anymore to report him)? Why should he be left to go on his way to abuse other women- as if what he did is fine and acceptable? Is it not worth the time to bother to set men who physically hit women straight? Or at least to attempt to do so?

  9. baingandabhartha says:

    Reema, I agree-there needs to be repercussion for something like this. If he gets sent back he will surely escape without any problem.

    What are you suggesting, some vigilante style justice perhaps? Probably some combination of both-a beating plus cops. But then so much for any chance at reconciliation/education. One other thing, what about the other side of the story? WHo is the woman, what is her story- what exactly transpired?

  10. baingandabhartha says:

    Reema, I agree-there needs to be repercussion for something like this. If he gets sent back he will surely escape without any problem.
    What are you suggesting, some vigilante style justice perhaps? Probably some combination of both-a beating plus cops. But then so much for any chance at reconciliation/education. One other thing, what about the other side of the story? WHo is the woman, what is her story- what exactly transpired?

  11. Suki says:

    This isn’t about immigration or any law. It’s about physical violence against a woman in a vulnerable position.

    Reema, I have more then enough spoken out against the treatment of women in our community when it comes to things like domestic violence, the sex ratio, the double standard between boys and girls, honor killings and even the whole issue about all the punjabi men from the west who go to India to get dowry then ditch there wifes after getting married in a Gurdwara and ruining the girl and her family life.

    But look at this website when topics like this come up, they seem to get only a few comments.

  12. Suki says:

    This isnt about immigration or any law. Its about physical violence against a woman in a vulnerable position.

    Reema, I have more then enough spoken out against the treatment of women in our community when it comes to things like domestic violence, the sex ratio, the double standard between boys and girls, honor killings and even the whole issue about all the punjabi men from the west who go to India to get dowry then ditch there wifes after getting married in a Gurdwara and ruining the girl and her family life.

    But look at this website when topics like this come up, they seem to get only a few comments.

  13. Jaspreet Kaur says:

    Thanks for sharing this.

    No matter how many times we hear stuff like this, it remains heart-breaking. The whole scene recounted by Mewa is disturbing. My initial reaction to this post was quite visceral. While Reema suggests deportation, I was going to suggest that you hand him over to the equivalent of Homeland Security in your host country and tip them off that he's planning terrorist activity. You can imagine what kinds of things happen to suspected terrorists.

    But that won't really help us.

    We all know people like this guy. People so lacking in love, respect, and compassion that they treat other human beings like garbage. People so alienated from their true nature that only a false sense of control can satiate them. We've seen this guy a lot. He's part of our community and our families. We may see him in our friend, our uncle, our cousin, our father, our brother. We may see him when we look in the mirror. He is a part of us. How can we judge him so easily without judging ourselves? If he is broken and wretched, then so are we. And there must be some way to heal this festering wound in our community.

    I honestly don't know what this way is. What would we want you to do or say? I'm afraid I don't have direct answers for your questions, but I do take solace in the courage and conviction that you show. I take solace in the fact that people do give a damn about other people. I take solace in the fact that in the face of such disquieting hate, we see love and compassion. I think ultimately, that love and compassion will be our way out.

  14. Jaspreet Kaur says:

    Thanks for sharing this.

    No matter how many times we hear stuff like this, it remains heart-breaking. The whole scene recounted by Mewa is disturbing. My initial reaction to this post was quite visceral. While Reema suggests deportation, I was going to suggest that you hand him over to the equivalent of Homeland Security in your host country and tip them off that he’s planning terrorist activity. You can imagine what kinds of things happen to suspected terrorists.

    But that won’t really help us.

    We all know people like this guy. People so lacking in love, respect, and compassion that they treat other human beings like garbage. People so alienated from their true nature that only a false sense of control can satiate them. We’ve seen this guy a lot. He’s part of our community and our families. We may see him in our friend, our uncle, our cousin, our father, our brother. We may see him when we look in the mirror. He is a part of us. How can we judge him so easily without judging ourselves? If he is broken and wretched, then so are we. And there must be some way to heal this festering wound in our community.

    I honestly don’t know what this way is. What would we want you to do or say? I’m afraid I don’t have direct answers for your questions, but I do take solace in the courage and conviction that you show. I take solace in the fact that people do give a damn about other people. I take solace in the fact that in the face of such disquieting hate, we see love and compassion. I think ultimately, that love and compassion will be our way out.

  15. Singh says:

    Mewa Singh,

    First – thanks for doing something. I think you did the right thing in reactings when you did and I don't think you should feel guilty for not realizing what was going on. It is a testiment to your upbrining (at least I think so) that you didn't realize it right off the bat.

    As for how to proceed – if you haven't alredy done so I think you should talk to the guy. Like BDB said, beating him up will only close the lines of communication.

    The reality is that too many men from our part of the world think that its OK to abuse women (whether physically or verbally). The problem being that they dont see it as abuse at all – but just the normal course of things: i.e. the man is in charge and what he says must go. The only way to overcome such an inhumane mentality is to "educate" guys where we see things happening.

    You asked specifically what to say to this guy and I honestly dont thing there is a simple or standard way of going about it. I'd address the fact that he was so drunk he probably doesnt realize what he was doing to its fullest extent. Second, I'd cover that overpowering a woman sexually is no worst than any other form of brutality. Chances are he will feel guilty for his actions or at least angry that you don't approve. Helping him understand his guilt and the disapproval is a good goal I think.

  16. Singh says:

    Clarification:

    I meant: I’d cover that overpowering a woman sexually is no different than any other form of brutality.

  17. Singh says:

    Mewa Singh,

    First – thanks for doing something. I think you did the right thing in reactings when you did and I don’t think you should feel guilty for not realizing what was going on. It is a testiment to your upbrining (at least I think so) that you didn’t realize it right off the bat.

    As for how to proceed – if you haven’t alredy done so I think you should talk to the guy. Like BDB said, beating him up will only close the lines of communication.

    The reality is that too many men from our part of the world think that its OK to abuse women (whether physically or verbally). The problem being that they dont see it as abuse at all – but just the normal course of things: i.e. the man is in charge and what he says must go. The only way to overcome such an inhumane mentality is to “educate” guys where we see things happening.

    You asked specifically what to say to this guy and I honestly dont thing there is a simple or standard way of going about it. I’d address the fact that he was so drunk he probably doesnt realize what he was doing to its fullest extent. Second, I’d cover that overpowering a woman sexually is no worst than any other form of brutality. Chances are he will feel guilty for his actions or at least angry that you don’t approve. Helping him understand his guilt and the disapproval is a good goal I think.

  18. Singh says:

    Clarification:

    I meant: Id cover that overpowering a woman sexually is no different than any other form of brutality.

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