By Baisali Mohanty
Violence, it costs a lot.
Violence. The word immediately stabs our imagination with blood, war, terrorism, the sanguine coloured flag of some nation, death, destruction et cetera. And then when we let our thought train move a bit longer, the subtle incidences of violence start cascading over our minds. One by one it comes. Starting with the poor urchin getting beaten up by his heartless employer, to the depressed look on the face of the school boy after getting bashed up his teacher, to the silent cries of the housewife after getting tortured by her in laws, to the desperate wailing of a helpless old couple completely neglected by their able bodied middle aged children. The images keep flashing on until and unless we force our minds to drain these disturbing thoughts out. Each of these incidents pierces my heart right through, and I am sure so must be the case with everyone. Yet these things do go on may be quite less compared to old statistics, but still huge enough for the nation to fight for it.
Since my school days till today, every single day I flip through the pages of any newspaper, I get to see numerous articles on violence against women. It’s really a disturbing thought that the fact, regarding the number of incidences against women are on the rise with the so called rise in the standards of the society, can’t be denied. I, being a part of that oppressed society, do feel it’s my duty to sympathize with the victims and help them to whatever extent I could. So I decided to do this project on one of the most difficult challenges the nation faces today: Domestic Violence against women.
Violence here too:
Going by the standard dictionary definition, we define domestic violence as “physical or mental abuse directed towards your kith and kin, which in most cases victimizes the female domestic partner.” Since time immemorial, the society in India, or I must say in most parts of the world, has been clearly and largely inclined towards a patriarch one. Women were regarded inferior at each point of time and are still considered so in a large part of the world. The reason for this bizarre situation can be blamed upon the physical strength factor, which used to be the measuring stick of social status in the primitive times. But no one can certainly nod his head to the notion that the world today runs on the basis of mere physical strength. Gone are the days when people needed to hunt down monstrous beasts to get their next meal assured, and same should have been the case with the days of women getting subdued in the society. But it now seems to be a quite distant dream of achieving that feat, especially with the educated masses also plunging in to the heinous crime of domestic violence against women.
As we go through some of the many cases of domestic violence, we can instantly come to the conclusion that one cannot just pick out one or two reasons that are solely responsible for the situation prevailing in today’s society. Here are some of bizarre heart saddening, thought provoking incidents, which sadly but truly our country faces today.
The headline of one of the articles in the newspaper other day read “Scolded by father, girl commits suicide”. Here goes the first few lines of the article “Upset on being scolded by her father in the presence of her friends, a 17 year old girl committed suicide in Bokaro, Jharkhand. Police found the body hanging from a ceiling fan in a room at her home. The girl was studying in Class XI. The girl had argued with her step mother at home. Later, she went to her coaching class. Mean while, her step mother complained to her father who was at work. After this, he went to the coaching centre and rebuked the girl in front of her friends. The girl felt humiliated and after returning home, committed suicide.” Now in a situation like this, who is to be blamed? Will it be justifiable to blindly put the blame on the low tolerance level of today’s youth? Surely, it can be questioned; but it obviously can’t be the sole reason behind the girl taking such a drastic step. If we look into the matter a bit closely, the girl must have decided to put an end to her life only after realizing that there was no hope for her to lead a normal life. This indeed shows how much was she neglected in her home and how much less valued she felt. Today we get to read about that particular girl cause she dared to commit suicide. What about the remaining countless young girls getting a strong urge to put an end to everything around them every moment they live?
Now let us have a look on the so called common cause of domestic violence prevalent in our country. “Teacher held in dowry death case” went the headline in the Times Of India, Bhubaneswar. Here are some of the excerpts from the article. “A high school teacher was arrested late on Friday night for allegedly causing the death of his wife for dowry. Sanoj Kumar, mathematics teacher at a government high school, was arrested after Sheta Kumari’s father brought allegations of dowry torture on his daughter against Sanoj. According to the report, Sheta had got married to Sanoj two months ago and Rs 8 lakh in cash was paid in dowry. However, Sanoj and his father, started demanding dowry in kind, like a motorcycle. When she refused to relent, Sanoj and his family started torturing and intimidating her. Sheta, unable to take the torture, attempted to commit suicide. Her husband immediately rushed her to the hospital but she died on the way.” This incident, might not sound very gruesome to us because we are too habituated hearing incidents like these, aren’t we? In fact, it kind of appears very normal. These things happen in the society, just one more suicide, what difference does it make? Most of the people who flip through the newspaper daily don’t even bother to read articles like these. Such has become our attitude, and such things still go on at large in our country. How many Shetas are being forced to digest the humiliating torture by their husbands and in laws daily for a thing as lowly as dowry? And how far are they from putting an end to their lives?
Here’s yet another different form of domestic violence from Bangalore. “Suhasini (name changed), working in a private firm describes two years of martial life as pure hell. After filing a petition, seeking divorce from her sex addict husband, she heaved a sigh of relief without having to spend any more dreadful nights with him. ‘Though educated, he was insensitive and a sex addict. I tried everything to work the relationship, but all I got from him was verbal and physical abuse,’ she says. ‘All I expected was a peaceful life. All the abuse by my husband in those two years almost brought me to the brink of suicide,’ she recalls. She is yet to overcome memoirs of the abuse she was subjected to.” This incident came to our view only because it occurred to someone from a upper middle class and a well to do family. Would a daily laborer’s wife dare to lodge such a complaint against her husband who, in most probability, must be subjecting her to even more abuse every single night?
Whenever we think of domestic violence, our mind immediately gets fixated upon a situation where we have a helpless housewife subjected to all sorts of humiliation and torture at the hands of her over powering husband and in laws. It hardly crosses our mind that even the modern day woman, equipped with the necessary intellect to take on the world, could be a victim of domestic violence. Here’s another recent case from Bangalore. “The abuse that Komala Rao, who works in an investment bank as a floor manager, suffered was different but no less. ‘My husband started feeling inferior to me as he could not progress in his career. Frustrated, he began bashing me up at home. After putting up with it for almost a year, I decided to separate. But those experiences have scarred me,’ she says.”
The cases stated above show the diversity of the types of violence that the women in domestic sphere are subjected to. Yes, there are various acts that guard against such heinous crimes, but still they are on the rise.
According to a Times of India report, “Tamil Nadu tops country in cases of domestic violence.” Excerpts from the article include “Disturbing statistics released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) show that domestic violence is much more prevalent in Tamil Nadu than any other state in the country. The NCRB data shows the state registered 3,838 cases of domestic violence in 2012- or 84% of all complaints (4,567) of domestic violence recorded across the country.”
Now this piece of news puts us at cross roads. What exactly can we comprehend from this? Is Tamil Nadu the only state where domestic violence is highly rampant or is it the only state where the women are educated and courageous enough to raise their voices against their own families? We can’t obviously stand by the figure that only 16% of domestic violence prevalent in our country comes from all other states except Tamil Nadu. So it has to be the other way round. Domestic violence is an extremely common affair seen in every second household in India. Are we on the right path in our fight against domestic violence?
India is a land of diversity and problems. So many issues grapple the country that at some point of time it all appears to be a vicious circle. You get out of one just to get choked by another. There are international, national, state issues to look after. Then there’s corruption, black money, scams, regional tension, communal harmony and the list never ends. In the midst of all these big issues, should the instances of domestic violence be neglected just because of the tag of ‘domestic’ attached to it? Certainly not! For how long shall we tolerate a custom as down trodden as dowry and keep aspiring to make ourselves count in one of the leading nations in the world? For how long can we keep the women kind subdued and expect to climb the ladders of glory? Yes, there are many steps being taken on this front, but the question is how much efficient the system is? Any sensible human being aware of the present scenario of the country will definitely never concur on the point that the steps being taken to eradicate domestic violence are sufficient enough considering the enormity of the issue. So now the question remains “What to do?”
The writer is associated with the prestigious Lady Shri Ram College, New Delhi. She owns to herself various articles published in several International and National Magazines, including the prestigious bilingual magazine, Jasodhara. She is also associated with various social organizations such as the World Women Organization,OYSS Women etc.