By Pooja Kochar:
“He was an army officer, and would hit me with thick ammunition boots.”
Mira was married at the age of 18 to a handsome army officer. They made a picture-perfect couple to the world, but the reality of this marriage was outlined with violence and grudge. Every night, Mira was emotionally and physically tortured for reasons unknown to her. Sometimes he tried to strangle her in sleep or asked her to leave home in the middle of the night.
She lived in fear for 30 years. Until one night, something within finally pushed her out of this nightmare. We asked her why she went ahead with the marriage for so long, “In case I left, he would not give me my daughters.” Children are one of the biggest reasons for a woman to continue living a life of cruelty.
If the person threatening you is your own partner, how safe will you feel at home? The concept of domestic violence is based on the notion of patriarchy, which needs to be converted into equality.
Domestic violence is not unique to India. The number of cases reported worldwide is a proof of its deep roots. What sets India apart is the “culture of silence”, what happens behind closed doors is no one’s business.
Violence, whether physical or mental, is a reality in many relationships. We hide them because no one wants to feel judged and victimised. We conducted an informal research, in the form of conversations with women to know their opinion on domestic violence. They started with slight discomfort and ended into details about a close family member who suffered this gruesome reality; a few even agreed to have faced it themselves.
Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act-2005 was introduced in India for the speedy disposal of the cases with victims who faced cruelty by husbands or relatives. Though the Act stipulates disposal of cases within 60 days, in reality, it takes nearly six months and sometimes more than two years.
Abuse exists in silence, and that is why it took Mira so long to finally open up about her story. She’s 83 now. The very first part in healing is shattering the silence. Today, Mira does print ads and TV commercials travels the world and lives every moment to the fullest. Her story should be shared and discussed with everyone, especially young children, because our society needs a voice that revolts against injustice.
What hurts most is not the words of an enemy but the silence of our friends. Do not be a bystander.