By Sonal Jamuar:
A man is not worth your tears, if the tears are a result of your his behaviour towards you. I am not talking about a lover’s quarrel or a marital tiff. I am referring to instances where the same man beats you, abuses you or assaults you. Do not wait for a wake up call to take action; today it is you, tomorrow it could be your daughter. Hailing from North India, male dominant households were a common characteristic in the society. I have no problem with a family system where men earn the bread. Roles are mutually defined and established where there is love and respect between husband and wife – division of the household chores and taking care of the day to day work.
At the age of six, I used to wonder why an aunt from my neighborhood often had a black eye. When I asked my mother about this, she dismissed the question and asked me to go and play. At the age of sixteen, I could hear loud voices from her house, by that time I had stopped asking. I had understood the reason behind aunty’s black eyes and sobbing. My mother used to pacify her and things went back to ‘normal‘. Neither of them discussed it later. On festivals, they visited us as a happy family. Aunty would still flaunt her gold jewellery and kanjeevaram sarees.
This was some two decades back. After getting my engineering degree, I started working in a multinational company. The executive assistant at work became a really good friend of mine. She had a cute three year old son and a great husband. They had a love marriage and were blissfully together for the last several years. She raved about her husband who loved her so much. I used to tell her how I wished I were as lucky as her. However, one of the days, I saw her avoiding me. I could not figure out the reason. So, I decided to confront her and went straight to her cubicle. I could not speak to her, I was shocked. The same black eye, puffed as if she were crying all night, and red marks down one of her eyes. She looked at me but did not speak, neither did I. I couldn’t say anything. It was an eye opener. Yes, I had wished for a wedding like theirs, but now I regretted wishing something like that. No, never!
Curiosity was killing me, but I waited for her to share what had happened. I did not want to pry on her. As a friend, I respected her need for privacy and gave her all the space. She later confided in me about the true state of her happily married life, and her usual stint with domestic violence at her home. The husband who loved her so much was the reason for the bruises, the black eye and her tears. But she emphasized that it was just because he got angry. ‘Men will be men’, she justified, and well, after all, he loved her so much.
Indian women have all sorts of excuses to stay in an abusive marriage. Be it their husband’s volatile temper, mood swings, work pressure, or alcohol influence. ‘But he loves me‘, ‘He apologized the next day’,Â ‘He even brought me new jewellery’,Â ‘Now we are back to being a couple in love’,Â ‘Perhaps our second child will soften his temper’,Â and many other illusory self affirmations.
Kudos to the women of India. They make us proud indeed. A man might hit you, abuse you, but if he loves you, his sin is forgiven. In fact, it is not even considered a mistake. It is a matter of shame for those who tolerate domestic violence, and even a greater shame for the society, which is a silent witness.
Where are we heading to? Love or arranged, marriage is a sacred bond. It is not meant to provide a license to abuse your partner. When will we understand that the basis of love or any relationship is respect? It is a pre-requisite to any relationship. The sad state of affairs is such where Indians worship goddesses, and beat their own partners. Domestic violence in India is an ever growing menace. As I Google for more, I stumble upon some shocking facts.
“Around 70% of women in India are victims of domestic violence”, according to Renuka Chowdhury, junior minister for women and child development. National Crime Records Bureau reveals that a crime against a woman is committed every three minutes, a woman is raped every 29 minutes, a dowry death occurs every 77 minutes, and one case of cruelty committed by either the husband or relative of the husband occurs every nine minutes!