Yesterday, as the sun drowned into the horizon, darkness spread its claws to cloud every person’s mind with confusion and exhaustion. It is the hour when women become conscious of their surroundings, parents become worried about their daughters who have to stay out and men in the house, drowning themselves in liquor, raise hands to abuse their wives. At a similar hour, family members gathered in my house to discuss the instance of domestic violence between my maternal aunt and uncle. Not with a shock but with complacence. Shocking? Or are we used to it?
On refusing to let my uncle hand his dead father’s photo in the room, my aunty was beaten up by my uncle. But what shocked me, even more, is the casual tone in which my family members talked about it Their conversation was hair-raising for me but for them, it was just a small fight or argument between husband and wife. For them, the fight was not too big that my aunt opposed it by shouting and throwing things. It was even necessary to “teach her a lesson”.
It is not the first time that domestic violence has been taken casually in our society. Often cases of domestic violence are ignored or solved by brushing them away as an issue between husband and wife. According to the NCRB report of 2018, every 16 minutes a woman is raped and every 4.4. minutes a girl is subjected to domestic violence. Moreover, in2019 report, domestic violence topped the rate of crime against women in India. Of the total 4.05 lakh cases, 30 per cent (1.26 lakhs) were of domestic violence. In 2018, a report stated that housewives who have been subjected to domestic violence and dowry harassment account for the second-largest number of deaths by suicide.
Then is it right to take domestic violence casually? Why are we still not enraged by domestic violence cases? Is it right to ignore the seriousness of a crime that tops the list of crimes against women? Can domestic violence ever be forgiven or justified?
Often when the domestic help in my house takes a leave, the reason they cite is domestic violence. I am shuddered by the chilling description they give about the violence. For example, once she was was beaten up by her drunkard husband because she forced him to go out earn something for the family. She had bruises on her face when she came to work the next day. But still, my mother, who is also a domestic violence survivor, does nothing but listen to the reason and grants a leave.
A similar attitude is portrayed by the protector of law too. They ignore domestic violence as an incident that happened between two partners and should be solved by them. Even the protectors of law, as per a report, ask women to ignore and settle ‘minor’ issues like domestic violence. If the Police itself used the conciliation method to deal with domestic violence, what can we expect from others?
In our society, people are ready to eavesdrop on the loud voices and cries from other houses but are never willing to break open the door and save the one who is being harassed. “Dusro ke mamlon mein nhi padte” is what we all have grown up believing. But if outsiders don’t take any action against the perpetrator and support the survivor, how will domestic violence get its proper closure? Because, even if a woman tried to speak up against the violence, society shuts her up by saying that 1-2 thappad chalta hai. That woman should ignore and adjust because they cannot get a better husband and family than the ones she already has. Marriage is perceived to be a bond defined by god and breaking it is equivalent to going against god. Until we believe in these ideas, domestic violence will remain a non-serious issue or an issue that doesn’t require the meddling of law and lawyers.
Even in the movie Thappad, the lawyer suggested Amrita to ignore and adjust because it was just a slap. Being herself enmeshed in partner violence, the lawyer never thought that a woman can raise a voice even for small issues. Amrita’s determination opened the eyes of the lawyer too to seek independence from a bad marriage.
So it is high time we start considering domestic violence as serious. There is a need for us to be enraged by instances of domestic violence and take strict actions rather than ignoring it as something that is a part of marriage. No marriage is happy or justified if it involves abuses. Marriage is about equality, love and understanding and not about violence, shouts and disrespect. It is about time that we change how we understand marriages as.
Views expressed are author’s own