Daughters

That sublime John Mayer song, Daughters, has been ringing in my head lately (read the lyrics). 

Maybe it’s because I have a daughter now or maybe it’s because William Woo, the newest blogger to contribute here, recently wrote on women in church leadership. But tonight I’m thinking,church leadership matters aside, when will we be bold enough to take a stand against the egregious physical and sexual abuse that Asian American and Asian women face daily?

Check this out: The Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence Organization conducted a study on the Cambodian, South Asian, Vietnamese, Korean and Chinese communities in Massachusetts in 2000.

Ethnicity

Cambodian

South Asians

Vietnamese

Korean

Chinese

%

47%

44%

39%

32%

24%

That’s the percentage of women by ethnicity who reported physical abuse and/or injury by their partners. Here’s a link for more specifics on abuse of South Asian women.

Some more numbers listed in the above link from other studies:

  •   81.1% of the women reported experiencing at least one form of intimate partner violence (domination/controlling/psychological, physical, and/or sexual abuse as categorized by the researchers) in the past year.
  • 67% “occasionally” experienced some form of domination/controlling/ psychological abuse; 48% experienced it “frequently” in the past year.
  • 32% experienced physical or sexual abuse at least “occasionally” during the past year.
  • Of the 23 women who reported not having experienced intimate partner violence themselves, more than half (64%) said they knew of an Asian friend who had experienced intimate partner violence. Smaller proportions of respondents reported that their mothers (9%) and sisters (11%) had experienced intimate partner violence.
  • 28.5% of the survey participants knew of a woman who was being abused by her in-laws.

And these numbers may be the more conservative ones. In a blog post entitled Sexism and Confucianism, the author Kai provides these stats…

This fact sheet indicates 60% of Korean American women experience physical abuse by an intimate partner sometime in their lives. 57% of Japanese American women experience an intimate partner’s physical violence by age 49. 47% of Vietnamese American women experience intimate physical violence and 30% experienced violence in that year. 40.8% of South Asian American women reported that they had been physically and/or sexually abused in some way by their current male partners and 36.9% reported having been victimized in that year.

Asian American women also have one of the highest domestic violence fatality rates in the nation…

And further provides this commentary on how male domination is rooted in Confucianism:

the flagrant sexism built into many Confucian tenets and practices, and the rigidity of many codified social hierarchies, must be expunged from East Asian culture, period….

 If Yin and Yang are to exist in balance, then the patriarchal order which has embedded itself into Confucian thought must be corrected, from the notions surrounding the special role of the “eldest son”, to the system of “obediences”, to the acceptable reasons for divorce (this one is key in addressing domestic abuse), to the traditions of inheritance. As long as these institutions remain in place, I don’t think we’ll be able to properly fight the epidemic of domestic violence Donna D writes about up top, because this backdrop of generally accepted sexism helps make this issue invisible and generates an atmosphere of apathy around directly combating gender violence.

Now here’s the kicker. The very first comment under the above post is this:

I see this sexism justified in Korean American communities, often through Christian rhetoric. If it ain’t one thing…

And before you or I get defensive, let’s first recognize that these statistics must hold some truth, that somehow, on our watch, physical abuse and sex crimes against Asian American women have happened and continue to happen on a regular basis. Someone you know has suffered. Someone in your church has suffered. And if we have made ourselves a stumbling block to the Gospel by allowing these types of heinous abuses or by dismissing them, we are as good as the perpetrators. Women in leadership is not the issue, the ways in which we serve and protect them are. 

Fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too

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Comments

  1. elderj says:

    An interesting thing to consider is that the rights of women have typically proceeded in tandem with the progressive Christianization of a society, at least in broad terms. So then there is within Christian understanding the basis for remarking of relationships between the sexes. This holds true whatever ones posture is concerning women in authoritative ministry leadership. So it seems that for Christians at least, part of the challenge is for the message of the gospel to go deeper than it had thus far in AA circles so that it confronts, challenges and yes even redeems the culture rather than serving as an apologetic for ungodly behavior. Domestic violence against women (and men for that matter) must be seen for what it is; an issue of sin and repentance, rather than as a simple sociological problem. Inasmuch as the Confucian cultural ethic reinforces the Biblical “wives submit to your husbands” so much more must churches emphasize, “husbands love your wives and do not be harsh with them.”

  2. William Woo says:

    I was about to type something, then I read the previous comment by elderj, and well ditto.

    We do not talk about this issue all too much and perhaps this is an issue that needs to be raised in our pulpits.

  3. Joseon says:

    Sex-selective abortions seem to be occurring in the Asian-Am. community according to this article:

    http://www.boston.com/news/science/articles/2008/04/01/some_asians_families_in_us_choosing_sons/

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