In the Durg district of Chhatisgarh, a woman allegedly axed her husband to death because he used to taunt her over her dark skin and looks. Millions of women have to bear social shame for their skin tone in the country. But is violence the answer to colourism?
According to reports, 30-year-old Sangeeta Sonwani was fed up with listening to taunts about her dark complexion. Her 40-year-old husband, Anant Sonwani, used to constantly target her for her dark skin and “ugly” face. The couple used to fight often because of this and on Sunday night the argument took an ugly turn when Sangeeta, who was Anant’s second wife, killed her husband in a fit of rage. She allegedly chopped off his genitals too. The incident happened in Amleshwar village and police arrested Sangeeta Sonwani on Monday for the alleged crime.
Woman kills husband who shamed her: Why violence should never be endorsed
I am not the right person to testify whether the incident has been rightly reported. But what seems clear from the reports is that the couple was very toxic to each other. While the husband didn’t step back from shaming his wife for her looks, the wife couldn’t maintain her calm and instead of ending the marriage, she murdered her husband. The incident offers an insight into how colourism is still deep-rooted in India.
It is 2022 but our society still judges women based on their looks. Even today, matrimonial ads ask for ‘fair and beautiful brides’. Even today, dark-skinned women are shamed and labelled as a burden on the family because getting them married is perceived to be a struggle for the family. And colourism affects not only women but men too. Nowadays, dark-skinned men too are being shamed and called unattractive.
Why does society measure a person’s worth based on their skin colour? Why does skin colour get to decide whether a person is ugly or beautiful? How long are dark-skinned people expected bear trauma and taunts because of their skin colour?
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Every person has the right to be respected and valued by others. And by shaming them for their looks, society snatched away that right. So society needs to stop taking dark-skinned people for granted. It needs to stop assuming that dark-skinned people do not deserve to be respected just because they don’t fit in the traditional definition of beauty.
Having said that, we cannot justify the step taken by the accused woman in any way. Violence can never be the answer to discrimination. Resorting to violence only brings down the society and keeps us from addressing biases and stigmas that burden our lives. For instance, this woman should have opted for a divorce if she was unhappy with her husband.
If the accused woman had been aware of her legal rights, would it have saved her from resorting to violence? Even if she had opted for separation, would it have made her life simpler or even tougher- being a divorcee? Society needs to address these questions. Disowning an act of violence is important, but addressing factors that could have led to the event is equally important as it could help us prevent such an incident in future and build a better society
Views expressed are the author’s own.