In April, I was lucky enough to meet Shamita Das Dasgupta
, who spoke at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
for the annual Balgopal Lecture on Human Rights and Asian Americans.
Dr. Dasgupta is the cofounder of Manavi (New Jersey), the first organization in the U.S. to focus on violence against South Asian immigrant women.
She is currently teaching as an adjunct professor at NYU Law School.
told me that, out of 160 South Asian women surveyed in the United States:
While I wasn't able to attend her
actual lecture (interviewing for graduate schools demands sacrifices), Dr. Dasgupta
was gracious enough to speak with me the following morning.
Returning to her
work in the United States, Dr. Dasgupta
spoke to me about some of the narratives she
has heard from the women she
has worked with regarding religion and domestic abuse:
After hearing these narratives from many women, Dr. Dasgupta
words really opened my eyes to the complicated, and often conflicting, challenges South Asian American women face, and her
words about "betraying the community" is something I have seen come up in my research about "honor" killings as well.
All in all, Dr. Dasgupta's
passion for her
community is something I found inspiring and her
passion as an educator is something I am very grateful for.