October is Domestic Violence (DV) awareness month. link. Though this issue does not need a particular "month" to create awareness, but I am glad that this issue is given its due importance (or should I say "some" importance) among scores of other issues that are present in our society. I am against all sort of violence: spouses abusing each other, parents hitting their children, cruelty against animals, against unborn (most of the times girl) children link . It contradicts our race. The race that we call "human race".
When you don't get the opportunity to directly help anyone facing domestic violence (or any injustice for that matter), then the next best thing to do is create awareness and spread the message. And that's what I am doing here, in this post. I also posted a link on my facebook page about the DV awareness website, and I was indeed saddened that I got no response to it. I mean i get f*#&*%& 10 messages and "likes" to my lame "flying to CA" status updates, but to this one, not a single response. Neither did anyone re-post the link on their page. Why cant this issue raise the same amount of public uproar that a Rajni movie gathers? Why are we, as a society so mum about these issues. Govt had started some schemes link but I have not seen their awareness commercials that frequently on TV, especially in recent times. This is one awesome scheme that we all MUST be aware of. Please read through this link. Why cant we let the victims know that we as a society wont shun them, wont question them, wont sneer and gossip about them if they walk out on their husbands to avoid DV. Or has the society not reached that stage yet. Maybe the society needs more deaths, dowry incidents and abusive marriages to make it "AWARE" and do something against it?
I wonder.. are the people on facebook lucky enough not to have comes across DV before (or know someone who has) or whether they simply just don't care about this issue? There is also a possibility that people in my friend list are actually out there helping others with issues like DV (but I have decided to be a skeptic, and ignore this possibility). And as I said above, we ought to be more vocal about such issues that are still considered as a stigma by the society. Imagine what we can do if we use these social networking and mass media channels for issues that really matter?! Issues that can save lives. Issues that can make the society 'humane'. We underestimate the power these mediums have to create a positive change.
Anyways, whiners are wieners, and I don't want to be one. So I shall just do my bit and write on this topic. I have grown up knowing people who have suffered DV. Right in my family. 2 such cases to be precise (that I know of). In one case, one relative xyz (now, no more) hung herself because her husband and in laws were torturing her physically and emotionally. She had a son. xyz was very close to my mom (but never mentioned the torture to her or any other relatives), and I was a little girl at the time she died. At the age when I didn't even know what domestic violence meant. Her death (and many other incidents i witnessed in my childhood) have left impressions on my mind. They are indeed responsible in making me more aware, more independent and more confident. (I am using xyz here because I am trying to keep this post as 'general' as possible without any mention of names or my relationship to them) But I still remember this incident with crystal clear details. When xyz died, and we came to know about the whole torture that she was subjected to, I had cried. I was shocked that someone would physically abuse anyone to this extent. And i was even more shocked that xyz's own parents had sent her back to her husband's house after she had come to them for help. The first time. And every time after that. Even me, a child, knew that this was wrong. Parents are supposed to protect their children. But its shocking her parents were more worried about what the society would think of them. For them, protecting the family name was perhaps more important than protecting their daughter. I read a nice line in an article: Duniya me sabse bada rog: kya kahenge log?!! Well, I don't know what the society thinks of them now, but I absolutely detest them for sending their daughter back to die. As for xyz's husband and in laws, I have nothing to say apart from the fact that they repent. They repent so badly, that their conscience does not allow them to live peacefully. And I also detest the society I live in which thinks less of divorcees and single mothers. And I also detest myself that I can do nothing other than write this post about an issue I feel so strongly about.
The other case in my family is exactly the same as above. The only difference being the lady finding enough courage to walk out of the marriage after 25 years. She is sane, happy, with her children making her proud. And yes, I salute this lady for her courage. Though late, she did muster the courage, and did an awesome job of raising perfectly sane children single-handedly.
Other than these 2 cases I have come across in my own family, almost EVERY domestic help we have had till now has been a victim of DV. Few months back, Mom was telling me about this lady she had hired to clean the house, has her own miserable story behind her. Husband is a drunkard, beats her, makes her work (while he himself sloths around the house doing nothing), and takes all her money to be incharge of all the finances (which are all spent on booze). He wont divorce her. When she left the house with her kids, he attempted suicide and left a note holding her responsible for his act. He did survive (i think that was his intent), but then to get the police case off her head (as a result of him blaming her for suicide), she had to pay some hefty amount, putting her in debt. And in the meanwhile the husband is back to troubling her and beating her up. She has no support from her family, and that single woman with no money finds it impossible to go register a complaint with the police. The police and the corruption and the horror stories that involve them is another day's post.
But just listening to her story sent shivers down my spine. This is something that is not new. (According to UN, 2/3 of married women are subjected to DV, according to a report that gave year 2005's statistics. I could not find more recent stats from a trusted source.) But I wonder if there will ever be a moment of peace for that lady? will she ever sleep a good nights sleep, knowing she will not be beaten up later that night?
Some would argue that she herself should be strong and fight it out. But how? Is it her fault that she was not educated when she was little, because her parents found is more important for her brothers to educate (which they will make use of by being sloths when they grow up and beating their wives). Was it her fault that she has not a single channel of support? I know, and have seen some people fight out of these situations even without any support. But what about the cases when the victim seems to think this sort of abuse is a part and parcel of life. It is something every one has to endure, Because her mom also had to endure?
Mom did all that she could do to help her out, but she left after few months and we have no idea where she is or what she does.
In most of the cases, the victim does not know that the abuse he/she is being subjected to is wrong. The social conditioning we get matters a lot. If a son grows up seeing his dad beat up his mom, chances are he will turn abusive. There are exceptions, and I am not generalising anything, but unless you are taught that violence of any form is wrong, you wont learn.
I request the people who read this, please spread the message around about this month being DV awareness month. Also, keep your eyes and minds open. DV victims (women, men, children.. DV is not gender specific) can be around you, in your circle of acquaintances and you might just end up helping them in some way. Be aware, be safe, help others by making them aware. There is another article I had posted on my fb page a while back: pink saree gang. This article had inspired me a lot. These are what I call "modern" Indian women. Women who don't need western clothes and english accents to prove they are modern. They don't even need to "prove" it. They are the people who "are bringing about a CHANGE". Who are not just writing articles but actually going out there and saving lives. I salute them.