Untold Stories of Hmoob Survivors

Domestic violence is defined as a “pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner.  Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone” (US Department of Justice).

Untold Stories of Hmoob Survivors is a video created by ” Building Our Future: Community Campaign.” Their description is as follow:

Building Our Future is a global community campaign driven by a caring network of change agents who are uniting to change practices behaviors, and beliefs that contribute to gender-based violence so that we can build healthy and safe families that thrive from generation to generation.

We have witnessed the harmful realities of abusive international marriages and domestic violence on Hmong families across the United States and internationally, and believe that together we can develop and implement cultural change strategies that will build the kinds of families that enable all of our people to thrive.

The stake is high for all of us if we don’t end abusive practices within families. So, we are drawing the line on hurtful and oppressive practices that tear families apart. We are redrawing our destiny as children, women, men, LGBTQI persons, elders, parents, and leaders to build a future where families are free from abuse. We believe that, “we are the change we’ve been waiting for.”

As I watched the video, it is quite disturbed how women in my community are being treated. As reflected on the video that the young Hmong women who was involved in international marriage are sexually, mentally and physically abuse by their older husband. “This act is an act of demotic Violence” as mentioned by Bao Thao-Urabe.

I agreed with many of the aspect portray by the creator of this video and as well as many of the harsh comments on the video. However, I think that International Marriage has many component to be look at in order for us to fix this problem in the Hmong community. The video high one aspect of the issue on women; being mistreat by Hmong men. It still lack many side of the issue such as the parents of these young girls and the decision or behavior these young girls willingly to put themselves through such circumstance.

No one has the right to do anything to anyone without their consent, I get that. As a society, we have the expectation that when someone is older, they should know better. This lead to the discussion that the mid older Hmong men should know better not to married a young girl under age to be their wife or second wife. And yes, we do hold these older men accountable for their behaviors. However, how can we stop abuse from happening if we don’t cover the parents and girls side of the story? What about those girls who willingly to exploit themselves to benefit from the international marriage? What about the parents who willingly or focus their daughters to married those older Hmong men; so that the parents can benefit from it as well?

We can’t solely blame on the older Hmong men; that it’s their fault for getting themselves involved in international marriage. We know that these girls live in a poor country and they are looking for way out; just as well as their parents are looking for possibility to make money off of them. I think that to attack this issue, we needs to education the victim (the girls and parents) from exploiting themselves and their daughters; help them to understand and stop them from getting involved in the act. At the same time, we needs to raise the bar of international marriage to ensure that the marriage meet the marriage standard of the law in the United States.

I have witness some case of international marriage where the young wife abuse their older husband mentally, monetary, and having affair. She already have one or two kids with the older husband; left him to married a younger man, leaving her kids to the older half siblings to take care of and wants nothing to do with them. We never cover this kind of case because we have the stigma that men is never the victim. We should treated each case differently, case by case, without letting our bias cloud our judgement.

There are many aspect of this issue that needs to be exam from all angles in order to resolve or better the issue in the Hmong community. It’s is a challenge to influence every single one to see eyes to eyes but if one soul can be impact, to see how this trend can be broken will be definitely worth trying.

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