Trigger Warning: Mentions of violence and abuse
Domestic violence has always been a major concern in our nation. From rural to urban areas, from highly educated to illiterate individuals, from millionaires to beggars, all sections of society have witnessed this heinous crime. As per various surveys, almost 27 percent of Indian women face some kind of domestic violence physically, mentally, verbally as well as sexually. The perpetrators include men as well as women who beat the women either for dowry or just to satisfy men’s ego.
But what I found shocking was that many women, who have also faced this kind of violence, find it all right. There are women in Delhi and nearby villages who were interviewed, and they said that acts of physical or sexual violence were “ok if he is one’s husband“. If a girl is married, her husband is like a god to her, they said. The also said that “he owns you and can do whatever he wants to, and you have to accept it as your fate”. The husbands and the in-laws of the women take full advantage of this thinking and use them as their punching bag for even trivial matters. This is a common belief in many parts of the country. Women are taught to compromise with the situation instead of fighting it out.
As a part of a project, I went to a village in Haryana, where a woman had a swollen neck. When asked her about her condition, she replied that her husband was very drunk that day and in the state of intoxication, he grabbed her neck and started strangling her, due to which there was muscle tear in her neck. I asked why didn’t she complain to the Panchayat or the police, and she replied with a big smile on her face, “Shaadi shuda zindagi mein to ye sab hota hi rehta hai, iske liye police ke paas kya jaana” (All this is a part and parcel of marriage, why there is a need to go to the police). This shook me to the core and it was very disturbing for me to digest, the fact that a woman in her mid-forties has happily accepted this form of abuse and doesn’t even think that it is a crime. She thinks that this her fate and she has to accept it no matter what.
On my way back home, I wondered some women don’t complain or even fight back. One of the reasons could be the form of upbringing, where the girls are taught to be the ‘honor’ of the family and should sacrifice even their self-respect for the family. In the case of rural areas, I feel education and lack of awareness play a major role in setting up this kind of a mindset. Women in many areas have internalised the notion that it is a part of their culture and tradition, and blame themselves when their husbands or in-laws raise a hand on them. I also feel that TV shows and old films have a role to play in creating pressure to be a ‘perfect’ wife and daughter-in-law by obeying, listening to and facing everything said or done by the husband and the in-laws. Lastly, I strongly feel that it is the great Indian patriarchal mentality, that has engulfed men, and even women, so badly that it only cares for the need and greed of men and considers every other gender as an object.
I also feel that this mentality should be changed right from the beginning, where parents, along with teaching their boys, parents must teach their daughters not to bear anything wrong that might happen to them. A strong sense of self-respect and self-esteem should be created at an early age so that the girls cannot be prey to this regressive thinking. A session must be conducted in schools and by panchayats about various crimes against women, including demand for dowry, domestic violence and many more and the steps to fight against them.