Making The Complex

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Why is divorce often more difficult for Indian Americans?

Louisiana is home to many people who immigrated here from India and other South Asian countries, or whose parents or grandparents did. It’s estimated that almost 90 percent of Indian Americans were born outside the U.S. Our own Gov. Bobby Jindal arrived in Louisiana with his mother several months before he was born in Baton Rouge.

For many Indian Americans and others of South Asian descent, the beliefs ingrained in their culture and families are still a significant force in their lives. This true when it comes to divorce. It’s been estimated that divorce rates among Indian Americans are somewhere between 1 and 15 percent. That’s far lower than the national average. In India, divorce is even more rare.

Those Indian Americans who do divorce often find themselves estranged from their families. Many are unable to attend religious and social events. Women, in particular, may find themselves without financial or familial support. However, the potential stigma of divorce can keep both men and women in unhappy and even abusive marriages. Sometimes, because of language barriers, they are not able to seek help.

Some Americans of South Asian descent are working to help couples deal with marital difficulties. They are also providing support to victims of domestic violence and striving to remove the stigma of divorce and remarriage.

The founder of a mental health organization for South Asians notes a phenomenon he calls “the invisible divorce.” This when people stay in a marriage that is essentially over. While arranged marriages are still prevalent in India, this phenomenon applies to “love marriages” as well as arranged ones.

While divorce is never an easy decision, some Louisianans find themselves with less support than others if they decide to end their marriage. A strong support system of family and friends is important during and after a divorce. However, if that’s not available, thanks to the Internet, it’s easier than ever to find people in similar circumstances who can offer support and guidance to help you end one chapter of your life and move onto another. Louisiana family law attorneys can often recommend support groups, therapists and others who can help you make the transition successfully.

Source: The Washington Post, “The divorce rate is falling. Here’s why that’s bad news for some Americans” Sharadha Bain, Mar. 10, 2015


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