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Domestic Violence Among Immigrants From India: What We Need to Know and What We Should Do

NCJ Number
International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice Volume: 26 Issue: 2 Dated: Fall 2002 Pages: 301-321
Mangai Natarajan
Date Published
21 pages
This article discusses domestic violence among Indian immigrant families in the United States.
Small, in-depth studies have suggested that there is a significant hidden problem of domestic violence among certain immigrant subgroups. An integrated theoretical model is presented to explain domestic violence in Indian immigrant communities. The model draws upon several distinct fields of study, including feminist theory, family violence research, analyses of Indian culture, acculturation theory, victimological theory, and crime opportunity theory. The model identifies the broad range of factors involved in domestic violence among Indian immigrants to assist future research. Violence aimed at Indian immigrant women is a complex social problem determined by a wide range of contributory factors, such as Indian culture and the immigration process. Several characteristics of Indian society, including the position of women, customary marriage, and family arrangements, influence the risk of domestic violence. The sources of incompatibility between husband and wife in immigrant families include disparities in age and attractiveness, sexual difficulties, and differences in caste and religion. Negotiating the immigration process involves many difficulties, such as delays, frustrations, and huge sums of money. Becoming acculturated to the host society can take considerable time and depends on prior familiarity and the degree of attachment to Indian society. Most immigrants go through a period of turmoil at home and work as they settle in their new country. Many Indian immigrants live in nuclear rather than extended families, which can cause isolation. More research is needed and this model is intended to guide the design of that research. The model is also a tool for considering preventive initiatives that should be developed to help abused immigrant wives. Encouragement from the police for abused women in these communities to seek their protection is most useful. 1 table, 4 notes, 60 references