After an arranged marriage into an influential and wealthy family, the life of a young South Asian girl is drastically changed for the worse. Married in her late teens into a very wealthy and influential family, Kamal dreamed of a life as a princess. This dream soon faded and Kamal realized the harsh reality of her new life. With promises of a fairy tale life echoing in her ears, she is thrown into a world of abuse, violence and torture. Afraid for the lives of her family and children, she constantly looked death in the face but survived to tell her story.
Black and Blue Sari is a true story about the cost of leaving a toxic relationship and how the transition can empower you and those around you. Domestic violence is an epidemic that leaves no community unaffected; one in every four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.
Since the release of her book in late November 2009, Dhillon has made appearances on both radio and TV and she has been the speaker and workshop facilitator at numerous venues including high schools, community events and places of worship.
Kamal is a mother of four and has two grandchildren. She has been described as an individual with powerhouse ability to encourage men and women. She shares her story both locally and abroad. She continues to be a voice to the voiceless. Through her presentations she hopes to empower men, women and children to live life to the fullest potential.
1. What do female equality and empowerment mean to you?
Female equality and empowerment mean that women are gaining power and control over their lives. It involves raising awareness, building self-confidence and expanding the number of choices women have. Empowerment comes from within, but it also means that we need to treat women as fairly as we do men. It is generally women who are excluded or disadvantaged in relation to the decision making.
2. Why was it important to you to write an autobiography of what you endured in your marriage? What do you most hope readers will get out of reading the book?
I wrote this book of my life’s experience as a tool to educate others on the severity of domestic violence. I wanted my listeners and my readers to journey with me through my years of emotional, physical, sexual and financial abuse and learn how we victims of abuse are robbed of our livelihood that is replaced with fear and hopelessness. I also want people to know that abuse breaks families, it destroys families, and it leaves the victims with life long scars – whether physical or emotional or both.
This book was meant to tell what happens behind closed doors. My hope is that people will find hope in my life’s journey, and feel inspired and encouraged in their own time of adversity. Everything I wrote was filtered through my life’s experiences. I didn’t have a perfect life – but I made a decision to turn my suffering into a story that can give hope to others, if not survival. I wanted to be clear that abuse is a crime and should not be tolerated. I wanted women to know that we are not destined to be abused but we are called to be more than conquerors. Our life has a purpose.
3. Writing your book must have forced you to re-live a lot of the pain you suffered through. How did you cope and what kept your faith in completing the book?
-I had a hard time writing my biography, not only because I had to re-visit my pain but also because of the unexpected emotional turbulence that came with writing about my painful experiences. When I started my memoir, I was hyped up and had lofty goals. Though it was difficult I wanted my voice heard, even if it was painful and made me cry.
-I wanted my book to speak to victims and let them know that there is a way out of the abuse they are experiencing. My faith in God and my prayer team kept me going. I knew I needed some good strong people to surround me.
4. Do you think gender discrimination and domestic violence has increased since you left your marriage, wrote your book and became a figure in the fight to end abuse against women? Or has it gotten better?
Since the release of my book, many women have found the courage either to leave their abusers or report their abuse. I don’t have the current statistics but I do know that I have become a voice to the voiceless. I have encouraged both victims and perpatrators to seek help.
5. What do we need to do to change the mindset of people to respect women?
It is a fact that most Indian women suffer silently from the cradle to the grave. There must be a change in the mindset of the people in this regard. Society needs to change its attitude towards women and only then can the country prosper as a whole. Let us change our attitude towards women. Let us change our perception towards women. Let us respect women. Women are the wealth of our country. Women are the true leaders who are leading us behind the scenes. Without the support of women we would not continue to grow. Without women we would not have come into this world
Men must change their attitude towards women and only then will the atrocities committed against women decline.
It is also the responsibility of parents to teach their children how to treat women. As mothers, women must take responsibility to educate their children, both boys and girls, to respect women.
6. What is your hope for women and girls of this generation? What are you most concerned about and what do you want women to be aware of?
It is my hope that women will embrace their strengths as women and that they will continue to be brave and face their challenges squarely. It is my hope that women will not only lead the world but that they will inspire the world as well. I hope that women survivors of abuse will never make their abuse so confidential that no one knows about it. Every girl matters! Do not let anyone rob you of your God-given abilities! Be bold and take initiatives.
7. The 2012 Trust Law poll ranked Canada as the safest country for women. Does this apply to Indian-Canadian women too?
Indian women still live in extended families where they are subjected to daily abuse. They live in fear of deportation. Many women do not access to key resources because of the language barriers that exist for them. These vulnerable women often do not report their abuse because they are told that reporting it will only bring more harm to everyone. So most of them just suffer in silence. The lack of education in their communities also prevents them from getting the adequate and necessary help that they need.
Thank you to Roshan Gujar for interviewing Kamal Dhillon← BackNext →