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Is Just The ‘Gay Husband’ To Blame For This AIIMS Doctor’s Suicide?

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By Devesh Narayanan:

31-year-old Dr. Priya Vedi took her own life earlier this week, after she realized that her husband of five years was secretly gay. “Dr Kamal Vedi I never wanted anything from you but due to your abnormal sexuality you thought you think I need sex from you. It’s wrong. I just wanted to be with you, accepting you because I loved you very much but you never knew importance of this”, she wrote in her suicide note on Facebook.

AIIMS doctor commits suicide
Priya Vedi, the AIIMS doctor who committed suicide, with her husband Kamal Vedi.

In a shocking move that left her friends and family stunned, Dr. Vedi resorted to this drastic step after her husband began to allegedly torture her mentally once she learned the truth about his sexuality. Their five-year old arranged marriage remained unconsummated while the husband allegedly continued his affairs with a number of men, returning home only to vent out his anger and frustration on his wife. There is no doubt that Priya Vedi was the victim of this tragic story. But the fact that she chose suicide over divorce or a lawsuit raises some very important questions.

Our society has a twisted notion about the concept of marriage – the whole ‘saat janam ka bandhan’, where the wife must never leave the husband’s side in spite of unrequited affections. The Adarsh Bharatiya Bahu is ever dutiful and faithful. In a country where the word ‘divorce’ is met with such harsh distaste, the intense stigma that surrounds the life of a divorced woman is scarcely preferred over an unhappy marriage. And while there was the recent case of a Bangalorean woman invoking Section 377 on her cheating husband, our society is generally not forgiving towards a woman who stands up for herself and openly defies her husband. This “stifling, one-sided compromise” is the foundation of marriage in our deeply patriarchal society.

But another obvious question remains unanswered – Why did they even get married in the first place?

Despite the progress we have made as a society, it pains me to see how we still remain shockingly primitive in our mind-sets. Deviations from heteronormativity are still seen as abhorrent, a representation of the “corrupt Western culture”. And for every activist who speaks out against the criminalization of homosexuality, there is an Indian parent who believes that shaadi aur bacche is the universal solution to their child’s homosexual tendencies.

Societal pressures to settle down and get married are unrelenting. So much so that even a highly-educated homosexual man is unable to resist family pressures, and is forced to enter a marriage to keep his people from gossiping.

Perhaps Dr. Kamal Vedi was a victim too. Perhaps he was too scared of the inescapable stigma of coming out of the closet in our narrow-minded society. Perhaps he refused to consider that his failure to be open about his sexuality could ruin someone else’s life. Perhaps he saw his marriage as a convenient façade to hide his true nature, and chose to ignore the fact that the relationship was founded in lies and deceit.

Shame on that gay bastard.

That doctor must be punished.

There has been no dearth of spiteful comments against Dr. Kamal Vedi in the last few days. But is all this hate justified? Well, yes and no.

Yes, because no matter how difficult the life of a homosexual man in India is, there is simply no justification for causing so much distress to an innocent woman. He should have never agreed to get married in the first place. His selfishness drove his wife to suicide, and a part of me is filled with a righteous anger to see him punished for his wrongdoing.

Yet another part of me can’t help but feel a little empathetic to his plight. Dr. Kamal Vedi lives in a homophobic society that frowns upon all things ‘different‘. There is no telling how his friends and family would have reacted had he come out earlier, but I believe that the story would have panned out very differently had we been in a more accepting society. At the end of the day, however, the final words of Dr. Priya Vedi’s suicide note reflect a very naked plea – “If someone in our society is like him please don’t marry to a girl to save yourself , you people by doing so not playing only with someone emotions also with a girl and her family’s life.”

It is unfortunate that our society is shameless in its persecution of homosexuals, and the denial of basic rights to these people is an indication of how much we need to grow up as a society. Yet, as columnist Sandip Roy puts it, “Gay men do not have it easy in India. But that cannot give them moral cover to ruin the lives of others. No one is asking them to march in Rainbow Pride parades. But learning to say No to marriage would be a good beginning. It is all very well for us to castigate the Supreme Court for its failure to affirm gay rights. But rights mean nothing without responsibility and as the Vedi case reminds us responsibilities begin at home.” This tragic story represents a very real problem in our country, and I believe that some very important lessons can be learnt from here.

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  1. kamesh gangwani

    So you are saying that he shouldn’t be punished because he’s a poor gay guy regressed by the society.Imagine the. scenario if she didn’t commited suicide and filed a divorce,still that guy shoudnt have been punished for touring her????

    1. Devesh Narayanan

      No, of course Dr. Kamal Vedi is not blameless in this episode, and I never said he was. I merely wonder if the situation wouldve been any different if our society was more tolerant. There are a few different points of focus to this story: how a homosexual man was forced into a ‘normal’ marriage, how he vented out his frustration on his poor wife, and how the woman refused to consider divorce and instead took her own life. Perhaps things would’ve been very different in an accepting society. However, even if she didn’t commit suicide, his maltreatment was absolutely unjustifiable.

  2. Pacific

    You might want to take a look at the layout of this page and site in general. Some of the text overflows to the right of the screen into oblivion. Also sometimes if I select some of the text, it disappears! These glitches seem to appear throughout the website. Using chrome btw!

    1. YouthKiAwaaz

      Hi, Thank you for that feedback. Could you please send us a screenshot of the article/s where you are encountering this problem? You can mail us at info@youthkiawaaz.com

    2. Pacific

      Funny it doesn’t seem to be happening right now. Might be an issue with my browser, probably some conflict with some extension. Thanks for replying though. I’ll be sure to mail any glitches encountered in the future. Keep up the good work!

  3. Albert Barrows

    I think that the Woman was disturbed to start with. I don’t think she should have married him in the first place. I support Kamal Bedi here, he is, after all, part of a discriminated and hated minority. If she had filed for a divorce, she stood to gain much more, she would have got half of Kamal Vedi’s Ancestral, Premarital and Post marital property, and half of his salary as alimony. In the bargain, she could have sent him to jail for reasons like being homosexual (something over which he has no control). Hers committing suicide shows that it is possible that she was mentally disturbed from before, and it could be that she perceived her Husband’s attitude as anger, and frustration. After all, who wouldn’t be frustrated by being forced into a marriage in which he knew, that he was not going to be happy?

    1. Devesh Narayanan

      It is my humble opinion that we are in no position to make judgements or take sides in this tragic dispute. Yes, I agree that suicide was an unnecessary step, and perhaps the whole issue could’ve been resolved much more civilly. I also agree that Dr. Kamal Vedi is a victim of our narrow-minded society, and some of the hate directed towards him is unwarranted. But there are many sides to the story that we do not know. I can only imagine the pain of Dr. Priya Vedi’s unrequited affections, and the fact that she was tortured despite pledging to support her husband’s sexuality must have been heartbreaking. It is a tragic story, no doubt, but one I hope is eye-opening at the very least.

    2. PP

      What an utterly hateful thing to say. Please provide some substantiation to your claims. Which legal precedent is your claim based on?

      Please cite ONE case where Indian courts have awarded most of a man’s premarital, ancestral and self-acquired property to his wife during a divorce proceeding, as also half his salary as alimony.

      So it was quite ok for the husband to be frustrated because of his homosexuality. Yet his wife, who he married under false pretences, and who could make no claims on his affections or hope for a normal married life, has no right to feel cheated and frustrated?

      Why did he not seek her informed consent?

      If you are gay and want to marry, lay the facts down before your prospective wife. Tell her that you mean to fulfil none of the expectations and responsibilities of a husband; that you will neither provide love, nor fidelity, nor respect nor support, let alone sexual intimacy and THEN let the woman decide if she still wants to marry you or not.

      Of course the husband wanted the best of both worlds — he wanted the social acceptance and privilege that married men enjoy in Indian society, but also the freedom to enter into homosexual relations, whether his wife approved of it or not.

      Adultery is illegal in India; let alone adultery committed by a homosexual husband.

      You sir, are a misogynist.

    3. TanP

      I totally second PP. There is one more thing to add. Since you all are talking about the stigma of being a homosexual, what about the stigma of being a divorcee? In India people always blame a woman for divorce. Even kamal vedi’s father said “it’s the duty of a traditional Indian woman to make marriage work”. If it doesn’t work obviously it’s she who is to be blamed. May be Priya vedi was under social pressure (coming from a relatively humble family; her father did tailoring to support his kids) and didn’t think divorce was a socially acceptable option. I agree with the writer that one feels sorry for the prejudice against LGBTQ people in India BUT that doesn’t reduce Kamal Vedi’s crime. He knew that he was a gay, Priya Vedi did not. He was still sexually active and she wasn’t ever. He could do what he wanted and she was supposed to make the marriage work. She could not divorce or she is to be blamed and who know kamal would have married again. She was almost enslaved by this man for his social and personal mental comfort. Like said above, gay rights are good but rights come with duty. This person (with due respect to his sexuality) should have respected the sexuality and life of a straight woman. This is not about LGBTQ vs Straight. It’s a crime by one person against another.

  4. Rukmini

    Punitive action is not the only way to get justice!

    We can’t miss the oppression LGBT community faces just like we can’t miss the harassment the lady doctor experienced. “Punish him? Punish him not?” can’t be the question. This has happned before and will happen again if we don’t address the discrimination LGBT community experiences and also patriarchal conservative marriages. Why did the lady doctor not think of divorce? because of the stigma? Then lets talk about that stigma and how to get rid of that?

    1. Devesh Narayanan

      Well said! 🙂
      There are a few issues to address, and neither the husband nor the wife is any less of a victim here. Personally, I too am surprised as to why Dr. Priya Vedi saw suicide as her only option. Perhaps educational attainment is no indication of emotional maturity. Perhaps she was genuinely afraid of the stigma around a female divorcee. Or perhaps there is a side of the story we haven’t heard yet. In any case, the need to sensitize the masses about these very grave concerns has never been more urgent. How many innocent lives must be lost before our society finally learns to grow up?

  5. pj

    dr.kamal must be punished.first,he should not have married her knowing his sexuality.though married he started torture and finding faults in her.5yrs of relationship is a very long duration.she was emotionally attached with him.how could she give divorce.secondly,in india,for divorcee women it is very difficult to face this society.regarding alimony,money cant buy happiness.he married her only to show society that he is normal.he has no right to ruin ones life.he harassed her mentally, physically and emotionally.

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