Is Domestic Abuse So Normalised That We Barely Know Tanvi Dayal’s Story?

Domestic violence in India, despite criminalisation, still continues. But this new case makes you wonder, just how normalised is it?

Domestic violence in India, despite criminalisation, still continues. But this new case makes you wonder, just how normalised is it?

Trigger warning: This post contains details of domestic abuse and rape which may be triggering to survivors or certain audiences.

According to Barkha Dutt’s Mojo Story, on December 26th, a 32-year-old woman was taken to a private hospital in Delhi in critical condition. The woman, Tanvi Dayal, a mother of two, is a resident of Delhi and has been married for 12 years. A victim of severe domestic violence, her condition on the 26th was so dire, she has slipped into a coma and is currently surviving on life support.

When Mojo Story spoke to Tanvi’s father and sister, they were informed that she had been strangulated by her husband. However, this wasn’t the first incident of abuse in the family – her husband had been abusing her for a long time before the situation became dire. Tanvi’s family has lodged an FIR with the Delhi police.

They also shared how the in-laws abandoned Tanvi after admitting her into the hospital. The place barely had any necessary medical equipment for a patient in her condition. According to her family, her in-laws constantly mistreated her while her husband was a habitual domestic abuser who had several extramarital affairs.

One can only imagine the horrors that Tanvi has gone through until 26th December. A mother of two, Tanvi always tried to maintain peace and compromised for the sake of her children with a man who constantly abused her, Tanvi’s family said.

Women are pushed to ‘compromise’ for the sake of the family

While the in-laws have claimed that this is an incident of attempted suicide, her family rubbishes the claims citing the history of domestic abuse. Though Tanvi’s family has always tried to be supportive and lent her an ear anytime she had to share her grievances or hurt. They even offered to help her come back home.

However, not all natal families are as compassionate or helpful. They often push women to compromise and adjust in hostile circumstances due to the taboo around divorce and separation. Lack of empathy from birth parents makes the safety concerns at the in-laws’ more insecure.

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In Tanvi’s case, she was fearful of how society would perceive her and her kids and treat them if she walked out of the marriage. This is a recurring fear among women in violent marriages that can only be assuaged by empathetic families and communities.

Lack of support for women who face domestic violence

In a country like India, where women are indoctrinated from a young age to put her family before her needs, such horrific incidents abound. A marriage between a man and a woman has a structural power imbalance in a patriarchal society. This imbalance is exploited by men like Tanvi’s husband. Cases of domestic brutality come forward every once in a while, in every street, village, town or city. But the people remain apathetic to the plight of women.

Not just the people, Tanvi’s family shared with Barkha Dutt how the police, too, are not cooperating with the family. The crime against the victim is barely taken into consideration thanks to the structural imbalance that is usually in favour of abusive men.

This is not just one isolated incident, during the coronavirus lockdown, reported cases of domestic violence reached an all-time high. The statistics are just the tip of the ice-berg.

Domestic violence has become another epidemic, especially in our country. Abuse of women is normalised inside the domestic sphere where the man is considered the head of the family. Women are treated by society as properties of their fathers or husbands which leaves their fate in the hands of their abusers.

Why aren’t we outraging?

In such a scenario, incidents of domestic violence, dowry deaths, marital rape and similar horrific crimes are as ever on the rise. The situation of women has not improved. We only seem to outrage when we find a burnt and tattered body of a woman who was gang-raped and murdered by strangers. Or when the police burnt the body. But when women are abused at home by their own husbands or fathers, the population turns a blind eye.

The constitution of India promises the women of the nation a right to life and dignity. It promises us equality. The IPC assures us justice in cases of domestic violence. There is a wide array of laws, policies and schemes aimed at uplifting the minority genders.

But where is the outrage? Where are the media houses who should be covering this incident? In an era where Twitter has the power to cause a major outrage and inform people, there was only a single tweet speaking about Tanvi and her plight. Why were there no more tweets or social media posts about this?

Have we become so accustomed to domestic violence that we barely bat an eyelid at such incidents? We have the power of social media at our fingertips, let’s use it to get some justice to our fellow women!

Picture credits: Photo by Juan Pablo Serrano Arenas from Pexels

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A postgraduate student of Political Science at Presidency University, Kolkata. Describes herself as an intersectional feminist and an avid reader when she's not busy telling people about her cats. Adores walking around and exploring read more...

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