[ Karyir Riba ]
A group of women were having a conversation. With all the chattering and sounds of laughter, anybody overhearing them could without any doubt tell that they were discussing something of keen interest.
One of them was telling the others about how her husband had given her a “kala chasma” a few weeks back, and another responded by saying she would have to leave early or else she would get a “kala chasma” from her husband, as well.
Everyone started laughing heartily once again.
Only if a person had approached them and asked what the hot topic was about, the person would have learnt that the women were talking about domestic violence, and that “kala chasma” was a reference to the black eyes they often receive from being punched on their faces by their husbands.
As shocking as it may sound to most of us, it seems to be a very common affair for many women. They speak of domestic violence very nonchalantly, and have discussions over it with their peers, sharing one another’s experiences, and they enjoy having a good laugh out of it.
Never during such conversations will you hear them treating domestic violence as a taboo or a crime. It is like being subjected to violence at the hands of their husbands comes naturally to these women and they would not feel normalcy in their marriages if there was no domestic violence involved.
Given such acceptance of domestic violence by women, it seems like men are not the only ones at fault for its practice, but that the women are equally responsible for encouraging it by not retorting. After all, if you don’t respect yourself enough to stand up for your dignity, who else will?
When asked why these women would not fight back and just let their husbands beat the daylights out of them, they all had one thing to say: it’s very easy to say but an impossible thing to do.
One woman narrated a story about how once she had gathered all her courage and strength to fight back (on the advice of some well-wisher). When her husband started hitting her, she said she hit him back too – and the next thing she remembered was waking up on the floor. She had lost consciousness as her husband had punched her hard on her face for trying to fight back.
Cases of domestic violence go unreported, probably because of fear of social stigma. Women who are subjected to domestic violence also do not seek help from their families, again probably because of the embarrassment it might cause. Hence, with the police and the family out of the picture, such women are left alone to fend for themselves. Moreover, people do not like to intervene because of the infamous belief that ‘the husband and wife will get back together but our relationship with the couple will get sour.’ And this belief is so religiously accepted that there might be a chance that even if a woman is getting her brains bludgeoned out of her head by her husband, their neighbours will never intervene.
Once, a woman was standing outside the police station. Half of her face was so swollen it was double the size of the other half and was completely black and blue. When asked about what had happened with her, she said her husband had beaten her up the other night. Now she was at the police station, pleading with the officer on duty to let her husband go. He had been taken into custody by the police on her complaint.
The police official informed that it was a common story of this couple. The husband would beat the wife up; she would make a complaint to the police; but every time she would come back the next day to get him out of jail, because he was her husband.
What fear would be left in this wife beater if he has never had to face any serious punishment for his crime?
It is good to see that some women activists and women-centric NGOs have at some points tried to create awareness regarding the issue by conducting programmes. Women are told about their rights and about the legal implications on violators. However, the irony is that not a single male can be seen in such programmes. It is like going into a forest and creating awareness among the trees to stop deforestation.
It is a shame to see that while some women activists of our state fight relentlessly for women’s rights, there are others who wholeheartedly accept their fate to be beaten up in their own homes, in front of their own children.
Until and unless women do not stop suffering and do not fight against domestic violence, the trend will continue from generation to generation.
As for men who boost their male egos up by hovering over their wives with their fake masculinity, they should know that it is the most cowardly and spineless thing to do. The right way for them to test their masculinity would be to have a one-on-one fight with an equally physically strong person.