British Asian Women Twice as Likely to Commit Suicide

// 7 March 2011

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southall small.jpgThe Southall Black Sisters released a report today stating that suicide rates among British women of Asian origin is twice the national average. Those under 35 are three times more likely to kill themsleves than other ethnic groups. The report cited domestic violence, abuse and arranged marriage as the main causes for high rates of suicide.

Asian Network’s phone in show debated the subject and had some horrific examples of how Asian women can be driven to take their own lives. Some listeners may find the programme upsetting.

If a woman suffers physical or mental abuse from her husband, Asian society says she will bring shame on her family if she speaks of it in public. Divorce is rare and frowned upon and daughters are encouraged to do everything they can to make the marriage work. Some parents will even ignore cries for help from their own children. There are services targeted at Asian women, but those women who move to the UK only after marriage may not even be aware of them or how to access them. In this situation, suicide sadly seems to be the only way out.

Personally I am shocked at the numbers. The only way to bring them down is education of those members of the Asian community who think a woman should just put up with any violence her husband inflicts on her rather than divorce him. But perhaps more importantly, the Asian community should be teaching its men that inflicting violence is wrong.

Photo by mariokoko, shared on Flickr under a Creative Commons license

Comments From You

garicgymro // Posted 7 March 2011 at 6:46 pm

“If a woman suffers physical or mental abuse from her husband, Asian society says she will bring shame on her family if she speaks of it in public”

Is this really true of all Asian society? Asia includes countries as diverse as Japan, Bangladesh, and Israel.

jazz // Posted 7 March 2011 at 7:50 pm

I understand your point of view and perhaps I am being over sensitive. But as a british asian woman with an amazing family, who would never treat me this way, I think you have generalized in the way you have written. What do you regard as ‘asian society’? and which religions are under this description?

axel // Posted 8 March 2011 at 3:06 pm

Are abuse rates higher in Southall than a random other district?

What is the suicide rate in Whitehall, in comparison with the national rate?

How do the suicide & divorce rates of asian women compare with other groups?

Shiha Kaur // Posted 8 March 2011 at 5:37 pm

@garicgymro – I use “Asian” in the same way laid out by Dilip Hiro – meaning those with roots in the Indian subcontinent which consists of India, Pakistan Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

@jazz I too am a British Asian woman with an amazing immediate family, but I believe statistics speak for themselves. “Asian Society” in Britian consists of those who have roots in the Indian subcontinent. As for religion, three major Indian religions (Sikhism, Hinduism and Islam) were discussed on the Asian Network.

axel // Posted 8 March 2011 at 5:40 pm

What is ‘asian society’?

Its as different in New Dehli, Bangalore or Mumbai as it is Southall, Drumchapel or Burnley.

I always have suspicions about surveys that compress 1.5 billion people, a continent and 5 thousand years of history into a trite 3 word metaphor

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