WARNING: This article contains details of suicide and abuse.
Advocates for victims of domestic abuse are calling for the termination of a B.C. radio host over his comments on the suicide of a New York woman who said she was abused by her husband before her death.
Mandeep Kaur died by suicide on Aug. 4 following what she described as years of domestic abuse by her husband. She posted video evidence online of her husband beating her in front of their children.
At a vigil held Sunday in Surrey, speakers condemned dismissive comments made by Sher E Punjab radio host Paul Brar. They also called for Mandeep Kaur’s husband to be charged criminally.
Gurpreet Kaur, who launched the Kaur-Singh Movement, raising awareness for South Asian domestic violence victims, spoke at Sunday’s vigil.
She says Brar’s comments are symptomatic of a culture within South Asian communities that discourages victims from speaking out.
“That was honestly a prime example of how our community reacts and how our elders react,” said Kaur. “[They react as if] it’s a family matter that should not be publicly shown, but there’s an open video that shows her being abused.”
Brar commented on air that Kaur’s husband should not automatically be blamed because he hasn’t been charged with a crime. The host was suspended from Sher E Punjab as a result with a pending investigation, according to a statement by the radio station.
“I think he’s on leave for two weeks now already,” said Kuljinder Singh Gill, one of the vigil’s organizers. “But we are going to push for him to get terminated permanently.”
Gill is encouraging others to submit their complaints about Brar to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). If no action is taken, Gill plans to organize a protest in front of the radio station.
Gill said he has tried to get a hold of management and is skeptical of the disciplinary action taken so far. He says this was not the first time Brar made questionable comments on his show.
“How many strikes is he going to get before it’s too late? She can’t defend herself and now he’s talking behind her back,” said Gill.
Dupinder Saran, another vigil organizer, criticized Brar for not consulting with domestic abuse experts.
“If you want to discuss certain things, you should have the right experts in there who work in the field or know the stats or know what is taking place,” said Saran.
Saran made her own experience of domestic violence public for the first time at the vigil. She also notes domestic abuse is not race or gender-specific, and encourages all victims to seek help.
“From the moment I was able to get out of my relationship, I have helped many women and children,” she said. “But it wasn’t for payback. It’s because I want to see people go forward with their lives in a positive manner and be able to do so without the blame game.”
The organizers are also calling on New York authorities to act on investigating Mandeep Kaur’s allegations against her husband.
“We feel our policies and laws are behind the times,” said Saran. “If there’s evidential facts showing that there’s abuse taking place, then what is taking so long to get that charge laid out?”
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, VictimLinkBC is a toll-free, confidential, multilingual service available across B.C. and the Yukon 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and can be accessed by calling or texting 1-800-563-0808 or sending an email to VictimLinkBC@bc211.ca.
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, here’s where to get help:
This guide from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health outlines how to talk about suicide with someone you’re worried about.