Two cold-blooded murders that have occupied our minds for the last week are the Shraddha Walkar and Aradhana Prajapati’s. Raising the same questions why do women choose to remain in abusive relationships, and why can men not understand that women have the right to say no?
Aaftab Amin Poonawala, 28, allegedly strangled Shraddha, 27 and sawed her body into 35 pieces which he kept in a fridge for almost three weeks at his home in south Delhi’s Mehrauli locality. He then dumped the body parts across the city over several days in the dead of the night.
Aftab alleged Shraddha had trust issues, and it was due to this she would often get angry. This led to frequent quarrels. “I often had to talk to someone over the phone. However, she would doubt my commitment to the relationship every time she caught me speaking over the phone. She used to get very angry,” Aftab told the Delhi Police. On further grilling, Aftab told police that on May 18, he fought with Shraddha for domestic reasons, during which he killed her.
While in the case of Aradhana’s murder, it came to light on November 15 after some locals found a body inside a well located outside Paschimi village in Azamgarh district in Uttar Pradesh. The main accused in the case, Prince Yadav, has been arrested.
With the help of his parents, cousin Sarvesh, and other family members, Yadav had prepared the outline to kill Aradhana, in her mid-20s, out of resentment because she had married someone else and not him.
There are two things here. Why do women choose to remain in abusive relationships, and why can men not take ‘no’ for an answer?
Why don’t women recognise the ‘red flags’ in a relationship?
Allegedly Shraddha was physically assaulted multiple times during her relationship with Aftab. Her friends have opened up about him and told her that he used to blackmail her emotionally and threatened her to die by suicide if she left him.
Shraddha’s case is the classic example of an intense and fast-paced relationship that tends to become toxic as many decisions aren’t well thought out. The couple concerned are often awestruck by love and mistake the intensity as passion and chemistry. Bollywood films and television soap operas also strengthen this. People often glamorise things like possessiveness and excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner or co-dependency.
Shraddha Walkar Filed Physical Violence Complaint In 2020, Social Worker Confirms
But, most women wait it out for things to work out. For isn’t it said that all relationships have their upheavals but then settle down? Most marriages in India survive on this pretext. Lack of support for women, whether in an abusive marriage or any other romantic relationship, is a significant factor that makes women endure abuse. Even if women take the step of separating or divorce, they hardly have anybody standing beside them. Financial dependency is the most prominent reason women carry on in toxic relationships. In India, most families don’t encourage their girls to chart out a career, whether it’s her maternal or marital family. So, they remain dependent on their fathers and husbands throughout their life. But, Shraddha was a working woman, so this factor did not work against her.
In Shraddha’s case, there was one more factor at work other than a toxic relationship. Her family did not support her relationship with Aftab; hence, they chose to move to another city and lived as live-in partners.
So, who knows the circumstances that made Shraddha continue in this abusive relationship, ultimately leading to her death?
The male entitlement
Aradhana had married another man instead of Prince, which was a blow to his male ego. How can she choose someone else when he’s in the picture, or if she can’t be mine, she can’t be anyone else’s was at play here?
I, for one, believe this is a result of social conditioning and upbringing. Our patriarchal system has told men that they can often have whatever and whoever they want. So when faced with a woman rejecting a man, they are baffled. They can take negative steps to show their anger, like stalking, threatening or throwing acid at the woman.
The only baffling thing is, in this case, Prince had his family’s support.
What women can do
When women are in a toxic relationship, they must make it clear that abuse is completely unacceptable. An abusive person will rarely stop physical, mental, emotional, or psychological abuse. Every woman needs to define boundaries for herself. This should include what is acceptable and what is unacceptable. Crossing this boundary should be red flag. The first thing that an abusive partner does is cut off the woman from her support group. Women should never let go of their support system, whether it’s a friend or family member. If not, women should confide on professionals and go for therapy early in their relationship.
If a woman is in a situation like Aradhana (we don’t know why she married another man, though) where a man won’t take ‘no’ for an answer (if that was the case here), she has to make it clear through words and deeds that she’s not interested. And confide in someone reliable or even go to competent authorities to make them understand that she is not interested in him.
These two cases came to light, but there may be several other such cases which remain unreported. Women must be doubly sure of the person they trust their lives with, while families should encourage boys and men to accept rejections. Women can choose who they want to be with and leave a relationship if it is not fulfilling.
The views expressed are the author’s own.