Of Cabbages and Kings

August 20, 2008

Songs about domestic violence – III

Filed under: Music — Tags: , , , , , — Chinmayi @ 7:03 pm

Luka, Suzanne Vega

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Songs about domestic violence – II

Filed under: Music — Tags: , , , , , — Chinmayi @ 6:48 pm

I’ve Got to Go Now, Tony Childs

Songs about domestic violence – I

Filed under: Music — Tags: , , , , — Chinmayi @ 6:32 pm

Independence Day, Martina Macbride

August 19, 2008

Domestic violence

Filed under: Random musing — Tags: , , , , , — Chinmayi @ 10:50 pm

“He used to beat me regularly”, she said, “he has thrown me down the stairs more than once, overturned a table on me and even tried to run me over with his motorcycle”

I heard this story years ago from a woman in prison. Her husband has sex with her sister-in-law and insisted that she watch and that she massage the sister-in-law’s feet after the act was performed. After years of violence, he had her framed for murdering his mother and (by threatening to kill each lawyer that took up the case) ensured that no one was willing to defend her.

Yesterday, I heard the story of a woman whose husband gagged her and beat her and strangled her with her entire extended family waiting in the next room for her to come out. She told her family that she had been feeding the baby.

Domestic violence. It ranges from physical murder to murder of the spirit. I have never quite understood this phenomenon. So many ‘respectable men’ are actually monsters that thrash their wives regularly, and feel very self-righteous about it too. They behave perfectly well outside. Many of them are even popular and successful. But they hate this woman – the woman that they have sworn to love and cherish – obsessively and delight in hurting, oppressing and torturing her. Where does that come from? And why does everybody skirt around it as if it’s another little lover’s quarrel?

Today, a woman on Rajat Kapoor’s talk show (which is very badly done in general) talked about how she left her husband because he beat her regularly. I was expecting the host to congratulate her on a good decision. A few minutes later though I found that they were discussing whether she had tried to change her husband and why it can anger one’s partner if one tries too hard to change him. Soon she was left looking, not like the survivor that she was, but like a loser that handled her man badly and failed to salvage the relationship. And she watched as the hero of the show, a women with five children boasted about how she put her career on hold and reformed her drunken layabout husband and worked out all problems (hit back instead of filing for divorce for example) and save her marriage.

I am not very likely to watch Rajat Kapoor’s show again. I like the man as an actor but he’s is a stumbling bumbling boring awful interviewer. But I know women who watch this sort of thing. These are women that don’t read very much and that aren’t allowed to move around in the world very much. Their orbit is confined to shopping malls, cinema halls and friends like themselves. And their perceptions of the world are defined by television and shows like Big Boss and Rajat Kapoor’s Lounge.

So if they are taught that virtue lies in turning the other cheek when your husband hits you and in working things out, imagine what must result. Those that are unfortunate flounder desperately seeking to please somebody who will accept nothing short of their misery and pain. And those that are fortunate are convinced that the unfortunate have created their own hell by handling the relationships badly.

And on it goes…so many women get battered behind closed doors, and come smiling and brightly dressed to parties so you never suspect that they’re going home to be battered once more. Their parents, neighbours and friends draw back and leave them to the mercy of their respective tormentors. And he, the inexplicably violent lover, bashes on unhindered.

April 8, 2008

when IAS divorces IPS

For those who are unfamiliar with the Indian government’s executive arm – the IAS is possibly the most powerful civil service…it very literally runs the country. Every years, thousands (some idealistic, many power hungry) applicants, write the civil services exams. The really fortunate make it. The less fortunate settle for the other services, such as the Indian Police service (IPS), and the unfortunate don’t make anything.

Today I read two stories about IAS officers…’lady officers’ as the media insists on describing. Both had IPS husbands…husbands who by conventional Indian standards were not as successful as them, both for whom the marriage didn’t work. Hemlata Pant was divorced twenty four years ago and is now homeless and reduced to living on the pavement. Nidhi Pandey has, with some difficulty managed to file a harassment case against her husband – she was recently thrown down the courtroom stairs. News articles suggest that the little support that Nidhi is managing to garner is solely due to the “women IAS officers” who seem to be the only people taking the issue seriously.

There we have it. My beautiful country. Where the most powerful women in the country are certified insane since they could save their marriages and are beaten and harassed for dowry. Where it isn’t even all their colleagues that are seen to be backing them but only the small minority from their own gender. Where a woman gets thrown down the stairs in court and the word ‘allegedly’ is still used in the face of her bruises.

If the most powerful women are so vulnerable, imagine what could become of the little girl next door, or of the one selling flowers round the corner…

UPDATE

An ex-policeman has denounced the action taken in the Nidhi Pandey case. While I agree that it does not seem fair to suspend anybody without an enquiry, I am afraid that I fail to concur with his stand that the “higher -ups …not meddle into the private affairs of an officer whose professional honesty in the field of service was never in question [sic]“. Since the law makers (fortunately) consider domestic violence a crime rather than ‘private affairs’, physical torture by an officer would mean that we have a police officer breaking the law. I can’t imagine how and why that should be tolerated. There is much research to be done on this and I shall be back soon with the whys, hows and wheres of it.

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