South Asian Domestic Violence and Karma

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The concept of karma (which means that the actions in this birth and previous births will determine the current fate) is exercised as a tool with some explanatory power to help promote understanding about a range of social problems in the South Asian culture. Through an exploration of indepth telephonic interviews conducted with a convenience sample of 20 South Asian women (originally from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Bhutan) in the United States, this chapter discusses these South Asian women’s experiences of domestic violence and helpseeking practices, in the context of the concept of karma as a unit of analysis. This study found that due to belief in karma (fate/destiny), South Asian women tend to endure violence for longer periods of their lives and therefore are reluctant to seek help. Additionally, the chapter highlights the meanings, events, processes and structures in the lives of South Asian women respondents living in the United States. Within the framework of discussion on karma and domestic violence (DV), the chapter emphasizes the need to offer culturally sensitive services and encourage the agency personnel to understand the ways South Asian women have coped on their own and within their own belief systems.

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