The suicide of a woman of Indian descent in New York, who abused her husband for years because he had “only given birth to daughters,” has sparked a furious conversation about stigma in the community. “I have tolerated it all, hoping that one day he will improve his life,” said Mandeep Kaur, 30, in a video shared on Instagram.
“It’s been eight years; I can’t stand daily blows now,” says the mother of two daughters – aged 4 and 2 – repeatedly crying. In Punjabi, she accuses her husband and in-laws of “forcing” her to commit suicide. “Daddy, I’m dying, please forgive me.”
Hailing from UP’s Bijnor, Kaur was married to Ranjodhbeer Singh Sandhu in 2015 and moved to the US. Her family in Bijnor said today that they too hoped the abuse would end someday. Now they have enlisted the help of the government to bring her body to India.
There has been no response from the husband or his family, nor has there been any information about any legal action against them in India or the US.
Several videos of the man apparently abusing her have gone viral, including one in which the daughters scream and cry. In another, recorded on a security camera in the house, she tries to stand up for herself – “I refuse to take it anymore” – but he beats her until she spits out an apology. The US Express News was unable to independently verify these videos, which she allegedly sent to her friends.
In the video describing the abuse, she says her family reacted after he “kept me in a truck for five days.” “My father filed a police case against him. But he begged and asked me to save him…and I did.” She also alleges extramarital affairs and says his family “didn’t say anything…in turn, made the violence possible”.
The video was shared on Instagram by The Kaur Movement, an organization that works for victims of sexual and domestic violence, targeting the Sikh community. Clips were also shared on Twitter on Facebook, by several people, commenting on “family and social structure.”
There are collosal problems in our family and social structure that we conveniently ignore or deny to accept. #Domestic violence against women is such a serious problem. Suicide by Mandeep Kaur an NRI Punjabi woman is a wake up call to accept the problem and solve it accordingly. pic.twitter.com/F8WpkiLCZY
— Gurshamshir Singh (@gurshamshir) August 5, 2022
Bigger questions occur among angry responses online and offline.
Protesters demanding justice gathered outside her home in New York’s Richmond Hill. Some activists from Punjab also went to meet her family in Bijnor.
On Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, people from different countries – most notably the Sikh and Punjabi diaspora – used the hashtag #JusticeForMandeep. Many reports said that society had let her down. Some people, in turn, post videos where they slam “make it bigger than it is”.
The UK-based NGO Sikh Women’s Aid, which also fights abuse within the Sikh and Punjabi communities, released a statement expressing her grief: “She describes a life of abuse, belittling and violence.”