A thought that torments

Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women



My friend Basharat had just returned to the Valley and was keen that we spend a day on his farm in Budgam District, away from the hustle bustle of Srinagar City.
So, on the appointed day, I drove to his place and together we proceeded towards our destination. We spoke of the new fly-over bridges, the many schools and tuition centers that had sprung up, the fast-food eating places that had slowly entered and changed our dietary habits, the mushroom growth of houses on agricultural land and before we knew it, we were already at the farm house.
We parked our car and should have walked in but suddenly were caught by the silence of the moment and just stood speechless, breathing in the air and I am sure, Basharat felt as light as I was feeling. It seemed to me that the noise of the city was the load that had been lifted from my shoulders.
But that moment did not last long as Gul Kaka, the chowkidar asked us whether we would prefer Qehwa (the green tea) or Noon Chai (the salted tea). We both laughed and literally together replied, “firstQehwa followed by Noon Chai in the fields”.
The house had been well kept and the cup of tea refreshed us, so without wasting any more time we walked out. Gul Kaka was keen to show us the hen house and the store-room and we let him have his joy.
Then we started our walk through the farm and quietly, in step with each other, drank the beauty of the vastness. Later, we entered the orchard that had been planned on the hillock nearby and I became conscious that Autumn has almost set-in as there were some red-gold leaves strewn on the ground although the apples still seemed surrounded by yellow green leaves.
We found a tree to sit under and Gul Kaka helped us to lay the mat, the tiffin’s, the music system, and rushed back to get the ‘salted tea’. We opened a packet of chips and poured some fruit juice in two glasses. Then we sat back to talk of more serious things. Basharat had marriage on his mind because he had to return to his work and his parents were keen that he marry and take his bride along with him. To me, of course, it was work.
Suddenly we were conscious of other voices and the most dominant was that of a female who was saying very haughtily, “Oh, you don’t know anything! Just shut up! Don’t I always do the work? You just sit and smoke your jajeer.” Then there was a silence.
Basharat smiled and explained that Gul Kaka’s wife is quite loud - and rightly so, “I have always seen her working while Gul Kaka is lazing around. He, perhaps, works only when my parents or our guests come here”.
How lucky, I thought, at least she can shout back. My mind went back to our neighbor’s house where day in and day out the man kept abusing the wife but she never retaliated. Each morning as I left for work, I saw her quietly moving out to her work. I expressed this to Basharat and suddenly our thoughts moved to how in the west the women had a movement that claims equal rights for them. We spoke about the Commission of Human Rights and Women Rights and also wondered what had happened to our society.
Basharat felt that women are the sacrificing types and live for their parents or husband or children at the cost of their own health and happiness. Thus, they allow others to take them for granted. Later, when they are in need of care and do not get it, they come to a breaking point and either commit suicide or begin to have various health problems.
Again we heard the female voice hurling another insult at Gul Kaka and I started laughing, “Basharat, do you think she would ask for divorce if given the chance?” I asked. “No way, divorce is for the urbanites. Here, in the rural areas, the man will say ‘Talaq’ and get away with it”, he said.
We saw Gul Kaka coming back with the Samowar and I switched on some Kashmiri music and sat back to enjoy the afternoon. But my mind did not stop thinking. How true, the more a woman is educated the greater are her inhibitions. The more the fear of society, the more are her own sufferings. All religions and faiths place women in high esteem but practically the male member of society proclaims his own dominance. This is what domestic violence is all about!
Woman today has become a toy to be played with and thrown away. Thanks to movies and advertisements, she is projected as an object for satisfying personal lust. She is taken as an object that is to be used without caring for her own will or decision. I am sure, men also suffer but the female seems to have been stamped for suffering and is actually looked down upon especially in cases where she is a divorcee or a single parent. Suddenly she seems like an “easily available” commodity.
As for my friend’s comment about rural areas - yes, no doubt women are more outspoken but also they are prone to more physical violence because the evils of alcoholism and drug addiction exist even in the poorest of families. The rich ones have a different story. Their definition of existence is purely materialistic and so many a times, moral values are thrown to the winds.
Therefore, the middle class families suffer the most. The women folk can neither be too outspoken and risk being called a ‘ganwaar’ nor be brave to go against social norms and be called ‘chaloo’. She just suffers and is even unable to express her pain! The man, on the other hand, can have his cake and eat it too. The wife is there to take care of home so he can do whatever he wants outside. But wait - outside is another women. So does it mean that one woman is enemy of another?
Whatever the reason, the fact is that women are suffering more and therefore when one looks at statistics one is not surprised to see that suicide rate has increased from 7.9 to 10.3 per 1,00,000. In a study published in “The Lancet” in June 2012 the estimated number of suicides in India in 2012 was about 1,87,000 occurring between ages 15years -29 years, especially in women.
Sad that 71% of suicides in India are below the age of 44 years and there was 64% correlation between domestic violence of women and suicidal ideation. Domestic violence was also found to be a major risk factor for suicide in another study in Bangalore. So, basically, despair leads to ending precious life. Be it any part of the world. America is considered an affluent country and yet nearly 30,000 Americans commit suicide every year.
But, back to women and domestic violence, it comes in all shapes and sizes, namely, domestic abuse, spousal abuse, battering, family violence and intimate partner violence. My heart ached and I thought, perhaps, we could bring awareness of this evil by talking of the symptoms, the prevention of abuse, the legal aid available and of course, the hope that someday the heart of man will change and he will respect each woman because he is born of a women and every female is a potential mother. She must always be respected.
These fleeting thoughts were interrupted by Basharat’s voice, “are you ready for lunch?” I came alive to my surroundings, shared the lunch and during our return drive took the discussion further with my friend who agreed that although we talk a lot about respect and love for women, we actually are careless in our behavior. As a matter of fact, we are overbearing.
Every 9 seconds in the US, a woman is assaulted or beaten. Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. More than car accidents, muggings and rapes combined, domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women.
This also leaves a mark on children. The girl child grows up either subdued or insolent and the male child is likely to abuse his own wife when he gets married.
I dropped my friend at his home, thanking him for the pleasure of the trip to his farmhouse. But, back in my room, I was urged from within to pen the rumblings of my mind and share them with you.
Take care, friends. Life is given to us just once and let us make it worth by being tender towards the one who is so special that Almighty gave her power to create another living being from within her womb and help Him, The Almighty One, in His Mercy of creating.

(The author works for social awareness on health and domestic problems with Inner Call, Bangloru.)

Lastupdate on : Mon, 19 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 19 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 20 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST

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