By Naazish YarKhan

When I was deciding on a husband, one of my criteria was that my spouse be the kind of guy who'd never hit me. A calm temperament was absolutely essential. My husband claims I had low standards. Wouldn't I expect personal safety in any marriage, he teased? Growing up in India in the 90's, news reports of brides being torched to death by their in-laws for bringing an insufficient dowry, and hearing of maids being slapped around by their drunken spouses, was commonplace. Alas, no, marital violence really wasn't something unheard of.

This week, with Aasiya Hassan's frightful beheading at the hands of her husband, Founder and CEO of Bridges TV, my fear didn't seem out of place. My South Asian community is in shock. Blogs are abuzz claiming that this is yet another of example of how barbaric Muslims are and how my kind shouldn't be allowed into the USA - Their venomous rantings leap off the screen.

Anger rises in my chest. Aasiya Hassan's murder is not about Muslims or Pakistanis or South Asians. It's about Domestic Violence. Each day, more than 600 families call the National Domestic Violence Hotline in America. They all can't possibly be Muslim, can they? Why don't people focus on the issue, instead of making this about ethnicity and religion? I want to scream.

Domestic violence happens amongst American Christians, American Jews, American Atheists, as much as it happens in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh or amongst American Muslims. I could roll statistics off my tongue but, even as I recall those numbers, I know I harbor a dirty secret. Aasiya Hassan's murder is not about the teachings of our faiths but it is about how many, in both the Muslim and Hindu communities, treat domestic violence.

Yes it's true that domestic violence cuts across all barriers. But we, as a community, are guilty of averting our eyes, labeling domestic violence a "personal" problem, advising our girls to be "patient", coaxing them to "work it out". Leaders in the community, especially women leaders, lecture women ad nauseum on the values of covering up one's husbands faults. We teach our daughters that some marriage is better than no marriage. Muzzamil Hassan had been divorced twice before, both times on grounds of domestic violence. Was there no one in the community who could have spoken up to warn Aasiya ? Or, like some parents, were Asiya's folks just eager to get a daughter off their hands, just as they would a burden?

When South Asian women do muster the courage to complain of abuse, they are not always believed, or they find they don't have their family's support. Some learn that they are bringing shame to their parents and families, that they will become pariahs. Even educated, earning women are taught to fear what society will say, and are told to worry that their children will be seen as off-springs of a broken home. Self-sacrifice and martyrdom are glorified.

Watching the “Changeling”, I couldn't help but think how one mother's heartbreak eventually led to so many positive changes. Asiya's murder is horrific, but perhaps her story will give our community reason for pause and hasten countless other womens' journey's out of violence.