• Saturday, March 02, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

Domestic violence linked to drug abuse among Asians

Academics said they have spoken to Asian-origin women who talked about the drug dependence of their partners and how it is part of their abusive behaviour

Addition to class A drugs causes arguments and fights in family homes

By: Nadeem Badshah

DRUG abuse is fuelling cases of domestic violence in the Asian community in Britain, experts and support services have told Eastern Eye.

Recent data showed that 59 per cent of domestic abuse suspects arrested in seven police force areas in the UK tested positive for cocaine or opiates.

In one area, the figure was 85 per cent or 127 positive tests out of 150.

Academics said they have spoken to Asian-origin women who talked about the drug dependence of their partners and how it is part of their abusive behaviour.

Professor Ravi K Thiara, from the Department of Sociology at University of Warwick, told Eastern Eye it is “often extreme physical violence but also emotional neglect and abuse which also create financial impoverishment for the family” and believes “we need further research into this issue”.

Thiara added: “The presence of substance use and also mental health is high among perpetrators of abuse and indicates the importance of holistic and co-ordinated interventions for perpetrators.

“However, we can’t assume that drug use is the driver of abusive behaviours, but it certainly is a compounding factor.

“Drug dependence is also being linked to abuse by adult children, often male, towards their parents, especially mothers, and is clearly concerning. It is also a significant factor where abusive partners are married to those with disabilities.”

Jo Sidhu

Sahdaish Pall BEM, CEO of Sikh Women’s Aid, said the group receives calls from survivors of domestic and sexual abuse on a daily basis.

Pall told Eastern Eye: “Many of the victims spoke about their husbands or partners being dependent on drugs and alcohol. We’ve had reports of perpetrators controlling the victim’s finances and using the money to feed their habit.

“There has always been a problem with alcohol in the Punjabi community, but more recently we have seen a worrying trend of increasing drug abuse too.

“Shame and honour also play out when it comes to reporting of drug abuse or accessing services. Some people are more concerned about log ki kehenge (what will people say), than getting help for a loved one.

“When this plays out in domestic abuse situations, women are often blamed for their husband’s drink and drug issues – ‘she must not be a good wife’, ‘he must be depressed about something’.”

An analysis of domestic homicide cases between 2019-2020 for the Home Office found 71 per cent of perpetrators were considered to have a vulnerability, and the most common was illicit drug use.

Parveen Ali, professor of nursing and genderbased violence at Sheffield University, cited a study in Brazil of 3,162 family members of crack or cocaine users who were seeking treatment.

Relatives of cocaine users reported there was physical and interpersonal violence, threats of violence and fights and arguments when the family talked about problematic drug use.

Ali said: “While there is some evidence of the relationship between substance use, including cocaine and violent behaviour, further research is needed.

“When it comes to specific statistics regarding the use of cocaine and its direct correlation with domestic violence in south Asian communities, there is a lack of research and appropriate evidence, and some reasons may include under-reporting and cultural sensitivities.

“It is essential to recognise that substance abuse, including cocaine, can be a significant factor contributing to domestic violence across various cultural contexts.

“South Asian communities, like many others, grapple with the consequences of substance abuse in households, often resulting in increased rates of domestic violence.”

In 2018, Shakeel Khan was jailed for 43 months and given an indefinite restraining order against his former girlfriend.

Khan, from Durham, admitted controlling or coercive behaviour, assault and drugs charges.

Meanwhile, adults arrested in Essex since April 2023 have been asked to take a saliva test for cocaine, crack cocaine and heroin use if officers believe class A drugs have contributed to the crime. Of the 1,519 people tested between April and August 2023, more than half (854) tested positive for cocaine, crack cocaine or heroin.

A positive result cannot be used as evidence of a previous crime, but will be used to book an assessment with a specialist drugs worker from a drugs charities.

Jo Sidhu KC, a leading criminal barrister, said the explosion in the availability and use of hard drugs such as cocaine has inevitably impacted the south Asian community in the UK, particularly in deprived areas.

He said: “I have come across many cases of addiction to cocaine, especially crack cocaine, which has pushed people into serious criminal behaviour, including murder.

“Addiction to class A drugs causes misery and arguments in family homes. It often escalates into violent abuse towards partners and children who try and stop the addict from continuing their drug abuse.

“When people take cocaine, it can suddenly and dramatically change their mood and make them more aggressive.

“When they are high, they can lose all sense of reality and self-control and end up attacking members of their own families. So I am not surprised to see the latest figures showing that domestic violence is being fuelled by cocaine addiction.”

Eastern Eye

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