AWAZ in LA Times

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Indian immigrant Rumi Jaggi said she didn’t report the abuse in part because of cultural expectations that she would stay married. R.M. said she didn’t leave her husband because she spoke only Mandarin and relied

on him to pay the bills. Concepcion Arellano said she endured abuse because she feared deportation.

Though Los Angeles County law enforcement agencies and community organizations have made advances in responding to domestic violence in immigrant communities, attorneys and advocates say many victims still face obstacles in reporting abuse and seeking help.

Language barriers, financial dependence and lack of information keep victims from coming forward. And those here illegally worry about being sent back to their native countries.

Many victims do not know that they may be eligible for special visas for victims of crime and domestic violence.

“There is so much fear of contacting authorities for fear of being deported,” said Olivia Rodriguez, executive director of the Los Angeles County Domestic Violence Council. “That is paramount with most domestic violence victims who are not here legally or are in the process of becoming citizens.”

Her council recently started a task force on immigration and plans to create a resource manual for immigrants who are victims of domestic violence. The Mexican Consulate also has developed a network of agencies to provide counseling, legal representation and shelter. Advocacy groups, lawyers and ethnic media are also trying to raise awareness.

“The main problem is the lack of knowledge,” said Juan Gutierrez Gonzalez, consul general at the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles. “That is the greatest challenge. We need to repeat again and again that the people should not tolerate this.”

Some shelters won’t accept victims who cannot understand English, but others have multilingual staff and cater to specific ethnic groups. And several agencies, including the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, have translators available for victims who don’t speak English.

For some South Asians, there is a stigma associated with going to a shelter, and few shelters make accommodations for religious-based diets, said Saima Husain, coordinator of the anti-violence unit at the South Asian Network. There is also a worry about bringing shame on their families if they leave their husbands, she said.

See the LA Times Article Here: http://articles.latimes.com/2010/jan/25/local/la-me-dom-violence25-2010jan25


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