Cancer Shamed in Britain’s South Asian Communities, Seen as ‘God’s Punishment’


Women of South Asian origins in Britain are suffering through cancer in silence for fear their communities will think their condition is God’s punishment for a “bad life”, according to the BBC.

One woman, Pravina Patel, told the Victoria Derbyshire programme she was “extremely lonely” and “had some very dark days” after discovering a lump in her breast at the age of 36.

The BBC reported that Ms. Patel grew up in a “strict” community where “even talking about the disease was considered shameful”.

She chose to hide the condition from relatives, worried that people would say it was God’s punishment for a “bad life”.

Another woman, Iyna Butt, was told “you must have done something wrong in your life and you’ve been punished by God” after her condition became known.

She said she was told “you need to do right by your religion more”, and even advised she should decline treatment to focus on prayer — or that wearing a black bra should make the cancer “go away”.

“It’s really demoralising to feel like you’re in a position where people think you’ve done something wrong to bring something like this on yourself,” she said.

Pooja Saini, lead researcher at one the National Health Service’s major research units, said “some women went to the extent of not even having treatment because, if they went, people would know as they’d lose their hair,” causing preventable deaths.

Other women “feared [their condition] might affect their children because no-one would want to marry them”, she added.

Shaming cancer victims is not the only misogynist cultural practice which has been imported to the United Kingdom through mass immigration.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) estimates that at least 137,000 women and girls have been subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM) in England and Wales alone, with NHS England logging 5,500 new cases just in 2016.

FGM is mandated by the Shafi’i school of Islam, which predominates in Africa, but it is also is strongly supported by the Ulema Council in Indonesia — the world most populous Muslim-majority country.

Like female cancer victims, FGM victims often feel pressured into silence, and it is typical for the procedure to go unnoticed by the authorities until women reach adulthood.

The procedure was outlawed in the 1980s, but the authorities are yet to secure a single successful prosecution, with police saying that “educating and safeguarding vulnerable girls is the focus [because]… Prosecuting/jailing parents unlikely to benefit [the] child.”

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