Anupama writes a letter to her 18-year old daughter. Read what she has to say.
We all agree that domestic abuse and violence should not be tolerated. This post examines why the reality is so different; why women fight hard, yet don’t walk away.
Women: the fairer sex, the gentler beings, the tolerant ones, or, the weaker sex?
Gentle – yes. Nurturing a human life in the womb, bringing it into the world and raising her into a beautiful human being, needs a gentle heart. Tolerant, definitely. We put up with our society’s biased mentality towards the son, who is given the larger share of everything – from a piece of chapati, to a piece of the family inheritance. But, weak?
Absolutely not! And, please, stop using ‘fair’ as a prefix! It takes immense strength to live life as a woman. Live life, and face it bravely.
However, there is one thing that shouldn’t be tolerated – the abuse we face at the hands of our men. The mental and the physical abuse that some of us suffer from is mind-numbing. We know it’s a crime, yet we put up with it, either for the sake of our children, or for the sake of our own survival. ‘Where would we go if we were to renounce our marital homes?’ is the question that plays havoc on our minds, even as our bodies continue to get battered and bruised.
As opposed to popular myth, domestic violence has an unbiased existence; it is found in no particular class. To put it crassly, not only does the unemployed drunkard from the lowest strata of the society bash up his woman; the highly educated, Mr. Richie Rich does it, too! A fact too hard to digest.
An old friend of mine – I’ll call her ‘P’, shared some ghastly secrets of her marital life. Around the same time, my domestic help, ‘M’, narrated the very same horror story about her’s! The smiles on their faces belied the horrifying facts of their lives.
P has been living with this monster of a husband since nearly two decades now, and has been at the receiving end of some brutal physical and mental abuse for the last 8 years, or more. And, M, who earns her living, and raises her 4 kids, has also been in this living hell for the past 8-9 years. And, they have put up with it, bravely, just for the sake of their children.
We, ‘the lucky ones’, who live well-cushioned lives with our loving life partners, wonder why these women continue living a life of misery, when they can free themselves from their tormentors and live peacefully. We will never be able to unravel this mystery unless we have walked in their battered shoes for a mile!
P, whose husband is a very well-educated, highly successful man, feels that she won’t be able to fulfil her dream for her children, were she to live separately. Her husband can afford to send the children to foreign shores for their future education, but, she can’t. M, whose husband has been partially handicapped since many years now and been living off her, has nowhere to go were she to abandon her husband. With tears in her eyes, she told me about the grim reality of her lonely life: her father is dead, her mother herself is dependent on someone, and her brothers give a damn! A sheltered life, or a helping hand from her family is not in her naseeb.
My heart bleeds for these two women, who are living a similar life, in spite of coming from two very different worlds. P, who runs her home with a pittance for an allowance provided by her very well-to-do husband, can point out the bruises on her body with the exact reasons behind their appearance. M tries to hide her’s, when she narrates her story of how she makes two ends meet, even as her husband splurges her hard-earned money and tortures her no end.
Some amongst us will sympathise with these women, and some might criticise them for their unwise decisions. How much more can the human spirit endure? P, who did decide to end it all, has changed her mind and plans to keep silent, so as not to instigate the man to ‘punish’ her. M has decided to go meet the in-laws and see what they have to say about the matter, after which she plans to move out of the house and live on her own with her kids. Although, I doubt that will ever happen.
Expecting a reformation from such men is as good as expecting the impossible. Their giant sized egos find it difficult to accept that their women earn more than them – as in M’s case. And, ‘controlling’ their so-called ill-mannered wives being their birthright is what the other one believes; having seen his father treating his mother in a similar manner! What is it that goes on in their minds, I wonder! The controlling, malicious nature, the viciousness – it sends shivers down my spine just imagining living with such beasts day in and day out!
After learning about the intricate details of their lives, I think it would be unfair to call them ‘victims’. Such women should be addressed as ‘Fighters’! It takes great courage to live a battered life purely for the sake of the children. All I hope for these two brave hearts, is that they think clearly and logically, and come to conclusions that will help bring some amount of tranquility in their chaotic worlds.
But then, what about their dreams for their children? If they do make decisions that will prove helpful to them, they stand to lose on other counts. It’s really a vicious circle, out of which they will have to find a way.
Women: Gentle and tolerant, yet, strong and courageous.
Woman and child image via Shutterstock
Writing is a passion I developed over the past few years since I began blogging.
You speak about bruises that can be shown. What about bruises that cannot be shown? Bruises of the mind? Without ever lifting a hand against their wives, some men can twist them into psychological knots that torment all the more because such a woman is irrevocably trapped. Her battered mind leaves no space for the courage to act.
Shilpa…you have spoken certain truth in your article. But for those women who are ‘comparatively’ privileged, the duty is to educate their girls and make them stand on their own legs.
One thing that bemuses me is that, how come, these women who have undergone so much pain and have almost lost their lives to such men, are still going all out and marry their daughters to another man, instead of instilling in them the need for first being economically independent and learn to stand up for herself. It really does not seem to go inside my system, even if some one says that a woman cannot live alone in this country without being married, blahblah…a part of the reality may be this, but why do we start another vicious cycle by marrying the daughter, expect her to give birth to children, as soon as the honeymoon is over and later sit with them and lament, ‘oh dear, this is the same thing I also underwent. What to do? This is the fate of a woman….’.
I may sound cynical, but can’t we take care of our daughter if they choose to stay with us till their end?!!! When we know that our daughters may have greater percentage of being abused, considering the fact that majority of the men are patriarchal. When we understand the reality that, after she gets kids, she is unable to leave her kids (kindly note the fact that the man who fathered the kids, is not worried about the quality of kids’ education, their future or the emotional health of these children when they see abuse in the family). Why burden her with something from which she cannot come out of….why can’t we tell them that there is a probability that she might get one/more (if she chooses to remarry) partners who might be abusive? Instead of saying a prince will come and rescue her, why can’t we say that she is a princess who has to take proper decision to make her kingdom beautiful, and the choice is in her hands?!!! ………any insights on these?
What if taking such a decision about your daughter is not in your hands? What if you teach her all that you say we must teach her, but because of your own situation, you are unable to stand by her when she is married off instead of letting her take her decisions? Read my comment above. Then you’ll understand.
The Hidden Domestic Violence – By Fathers And Brothers, That We Need To Speak Of
Domestic Violence — Why Do Women Suffer In Silence?
Priyanka Chopra’s 7 Khoon Maaf Is A Parable Telling Us That Domestic Abuse Is Not OK
Marital Rape In India: We Value ‘Institutions’ Over Women
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