They added that they strive to help the Indian immigrants get assimilated into the mainstream.
Molly Banerjei, a businesswoman from Toronto, told IANS: “Domestic violence is rampant among the Indian community.”
The view was shared by two other woman delegates from Toronto — Gursharan Kaur Kandra, president and CEO, Canadian International Academic Services, and Priti Lamba, vice president of Association of Women of India in Canada (AWIC).
According to Banerjei: “Everything that happens in India, happens there – the people carry the same baggage to Canada… A woman is not treated as equal and subject to physical and emotional abuse.”
Female foeticide is prevalent in Canada among the Indian community and it is made easier as sex determination of the unborn foetus and abortion are legal. Banerjei said she would be reading a paper on the subject in Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Honour killings are prevalent in the Punjabi and Tamil community, she said.
Indians comprise more than a million of Canada’s 33 million people, which is a sizeable number, said Banerjei, who is a member of the Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin – Canada.
According to her, the reason why Indians continue to practise such evils is because of the policy of multiculturalism that Canada follows. “It is a wonderful policy, which says wherever you come from you are allowed to keep your culture… Canada is a mosaic of cultures with different backgrounds.
“But the flip side is the Indians feel they can continue with the abuse of women, and other evils. Women who are bankers, independent professionals face daily abuse at the hands of their husbands. The numbers go unreported as there is fear if the woman reports abuse the police will take immediate action. The woman will also get ostracised by society and be shunned in temples, gurudwaras.”
GOPIO-Canada has set up a help desk to aid women facing domestic violence. “But they don’t come forward to complain,” she added.
Kandra said domestic violence is a major factor among the Indian community, as well as unemployment among the youth who don’t get proper jobs after emigrating.
Priti Lamba said her association AWIC is working to stop abuse of women and to help them get some skills and jobs.
“There is need to stop violence against women. We try to help women, especially those coming to Canada who don’t get support from their families.”
There are also shelters for women where victims of domestic violence can go, said Lamba.
AWIC also helps to solve marital discord by talking to both sides in the conflict.
The three are delegates from Canada at the 12th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD), the world’s largest annual gathering of people of Indian origin that began here Tuesday.