Monday, 14 June 2010

try not to look asian

how's this for victim blaming:

Auckland police are warning Asian families to keep a low profile to avoid becoming the target of burglaries.

Southeast Asian liaison officer Constable Gurpreet Arora said Asian families should take down national flags from their homes and keep religious festivals low-key.

The advice was mainly for Auckland families, based on his experience, but could be extended to all Asian families in New Zealand, he said.

"Burglars are very well aware of the fact that South Asian communities tend to keep considerable amounts of cash and jewellery at home."

when i first read this, i have to say it made me really angry. that the police response to reducing crime would be telling ethnic minorities to hide their identities is indeed a new low. that the statement is made by a south asian member of the force shows that this approach to crime-busting is more about police culture than about inter-cultural awareness.

i can appreciate that police are looking at ways to keep people safe. but that surely shouldn't involve asking people to hide their identities? ugh. i'm glad i'm not the only one who sees it this way. not sure that this link will work for most of you, but here are excerpts from an article on the stuff website:

New Zealand Indian Central Association president Prithipal Singh said the advice was well meaning but unfair.

‘‘I think we are already keeping a low profile. It’s unfair to ask us to do any more,’’ he said.

New Zealand Chinese Association national president Steven Young said the police request was ‘‘a passive response’’ to crime.

‘‘It’s like they are hoping for us to keep a low profile, so that we’ll be less trouble for them.’’
Cultures should not be asked to become ‘‘invisible’’, Mr Young said.

‘‘You need to acknowledge your cultural awareness; if you don’t you lose your status, your awareness, you become more marginalised.’’

Chinese academic Dr Hongzhi Gao said ... rather than being told to ‘‘tone things down’’ by police, Asians should be given advice about how to seek legal help in New Zealand...

needless to say, i've raised this issue with our local police ethnic liaison officer who was really supportive and agreed that the comments were inappropriate. let's hope he and others in the police force will be able to push for a change from within.


Anonymous said...

Wouldn't "employ a good locksmith and consider keeping less cash in the house" be better advice (and not just for those of Asian extraction)?

Lindsay Mitchell said...

It's an admission of their own failure to do what they are employed and paid for.

Julie said...

That is awful Anjum, just awful. Good on you for saying something.

Violet said...

yeah it's a lot like telling women not to go out at night because if they do they'll be more vulnerable to mugging/rape/whatever.

It would have been far more constructive to promote sensible security strategies (incl. putting not leaving lotsa cash at home, decent home security systems etc) to both the Asian community and the wider community.