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Thursday, 12 October, 2000, 11:05 GMT 12:05 UK
Asian women 'high suicide risks'
video drama
The video shows an Asian man battering his wife
Asian women are twice as likely as white women to kill themselves, according to new research.

The study by the University of Surrey says some women are victims of domestic violence, others face forced marriage and many suffer from the stresses of everyday life but are left to cope alone.

This video aims to educate the community about a subject which is regarded as taboo

Meera Syal
A video drama, funded by government and the Northern Birmingham Mental Health Trust, is being released to shock British Asians into realising the gravity of the situation.

The film, which includes scenes of an Asian man battering and abusing his wife, is to be distributed to every Asian community group in Britain and to every Mosque and Sikh and Hindu temple.

Northern Birmingham Mental Health Trust's Lakhvir Rellon told BBC News 24: "We need to shock the community because women are killing themselves and they have no one to turn to, the community is ignoring the problem."

The one-hour film is narrated by actress and comedienne Meera Syal, one of the stars of the BBC's Goodness Gracious Me, and actor Saeed Jaffrey.

"Every Asian family knows someone who has harmed themselves or committed suicide," Ms Syal told the BBC.

Meera Syal
Meera Syal: Narrator
"This video aims to educate the community about a subject which is regarded as taboo."

Sita Joshi, who was taken into care and placed with white foster parents at a young age, has also backed the drama.

"I was suffering so much, I had it in my mind that I wanted to be white," she told the BBC.

"It was a clash of cultures.

"I was so confused, so unhappy, so unloved."

Ms Joshi, from Birmingham, started harming herself at the age of 15 and twice attempted suicide.

It was a cry for help, she said.

She is now rebuilding her life and will soon start a job helping people with mental illness.

"The video will educate people about how women are suffering.

Sita Joshi
Sita Joshi: 'Cry for help'
"The problem is we have no one to turn to, we must not be ignored", said Ms Joshi.

But the video has infuriated some British Asians.

Balbir Grewal, general secretary of a Sikh temple in Southall in west London, told the BBC: "It's very bad.

"We're a close-knit community and we care for our girls.

"The drama shows us in a very bad light, and the people who've produced this video are shaming the community by claiming there's a big problem."

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