When South Asians immigrated to the United States in great numbers in the 1970s, they were passionately driven to achieve economic stability and socialize the next generation to retain the traditions of their home culture. During these years, the immigrant community went to great lengths to project an impeccable public image by denying the existence of social problems such as domestic violence, sexual assault, child sexual abuse, mental illness, racism, and intergenerational conflict. It was not until recently that activist groups have worked to bring these issues out into the open.
In Body Evidence, more than twenty scholars and public health professionals uncover the unique challenges faced by victims of violence in intimate spaces . . . within families, communities and trusted relationships in South Asian American communities. Topics include cultural obsession with women's chastity and virginity; the continued silence surrounding intimate violence among women who identify themselves as lesbian, bisexual, or transgender; the consequences of refusing marriage proposals or failing to meet dowry demands; and, ultimately, the ways in which the United States courts often confuse and exacerbate the plights of these women.
A Patchwork Shawl sheds light on the lives of a segment of the U.S. immigrant population that has long been relegated to the margins. It focuses on women's lives that span different worlds: Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and the United States. This collection of essays by and about South Asian women in America challenges stereotypes by allowing women to speak in their own words. Together they provide discerning insights into the reconstruction of immigrant patriarchy in a new world, and the development of women's resistance to that reconstruction. Shamita Das DasGupta's introduction also acquaints readers with the psychological topography of the South Asian community.
A Patchwork Shawl considers topics from re-negotiation of identity to sexuality, violence to intimacy, occupations to organizing within the community. The essays bear witness to women's negotiations for independent identities, their claim to their own bodies, and the right to choose relationships based on their own histories and truths. They bring new understanding to the intersection of gender, ethnicity, race, sexuality, and class.