Ahwatukee Murder Of Interest To Domestic Violence Advocates

Sarah Muench, Arizona Republic, April 3, 2007

A murder and manhunt originating from Ahwatukee spanned global headlines this week and stirred concern about domestic violence among Indian couples.

The Ahwatukee slaying is the latest in a string of cases in which Indo-Canadian men have been charged with the murder of their wives, the Vancouver Sun reported this week.

Police say Indian citizen Avtar Grewal, 32, flew in last week to the Valley from Vancouver, Canada, where was living, killed his estranged, 30-year-old wife, Navneet Kaur, late Thursday in her Ahwatukee home, then fled to India.

Since late October, four Indo-Canadian women near Vancouver have been killed, reportedly by their husbands, the Canadian paper reported. They were a pregnant teacher burned to death, the mother of an infant son, stabbed to death, a woman fatally shot in the face by her estranged husband who killed himself and the most recent, a mother stabbed to death with her two toddler daughters nearby. In at least two of the slayings, the women’s husbands have been charged.

More than 37 percent of married women in India were victims of physical or sexual abuse by their husbands, according to a 2007 National Family Health Survey there.

But the intensity in domestic violence in the United States among Indian couples can be worse, said Bharati Sen, president of Arizona South Asians for Safe Families. The group works to help local south Asians, including Indian women, who suffer from domestic abuse.

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Sen said many times women new to the country don’t have anyone to turn to and traditionally it’s not as accepted to talk about domestic violence.

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“Arranged marriages themselves cannot be blamed, that is a very prevalent way of people finding life partners, but that could be one of the reasons that the girl didn’t know anything about him, that he had any mental issues, there would be no way that she would know. Would she know had she known him?”

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