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"It’s a girl...we will have to get her married one day." : experiences of single, second generation South Asian women in relation to the cultural expectations to marr Basra, Sarbjit

Abstract

This qualitative, grounded theory study examined the experiences of single, second generation South Asian women in relation to the cultural expectations to marry. Personal experience brought me to identify the significance of this social issue. The theoretical framework included feminist, acculturation, and multigenerational family theories. In-depth semi-structured interviews were carried out with seven South Asian women between the ages of 20-35 from the Greater Vancouver area of British Columbia, Canada. Six women were from Punjabi, Sikh ethnocultural background while one was of Hindu heritage. Five major themes emerged from the findings: pervasive pressures to marry; conflicting expectations; effects on the women; women's ways of coping; and, women's suggestions for change. Tensions between social expectations and personal expectations were discussed as well as the interlocking oppressions of race, gender and class experienced by South Asian women. Social work implications for theory, policy, practice and research were also explored. The importance of delivering culturally sensitive service was emphasized. By becoming cognizant of South Asian ideologies such as izzat, amanat, jaat (caste), dharm, karm, kismat and sanjog, a practitioner can begin to honour the world views, values and cultural contexts of the women and their families.

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