Monday, October 12, 2009
Well, a High Court of India has finally put the seal on the real status of women in their matrimonial homes...kicking, calling names, giving her second hand clothes to wear...everything is acceptable...these do not amount to cruelty. Funnily, no women's organisation vociforously protested the judgement...at least not in the newspapers. There were a few tiny articles hidden in the papers somewhere, shamefaced. What are women afraid of, contempt of court. The news on whether the judges are liable to declare their assets to a governmental authority, on the other hand, made it to the front pages and editorials of several newspapers and magazines. Is it because such torture is acceptable to us as a society. A society where untold misery including the killing of young brides and mothers is common place, what are a few kicks here and there? I remember what my mother in law once told me " if you are so easily hurt why did you get married?" As if getting hurt and marriage and getting hurt at the verbal barbs of your in laws goes hand in hand. That is an accepted rule in Indian society...'tana marna' , 'sasural ke taane sunna'. An ideal wife will bare the taana easily and smilingly get into the business of being an ideal bahu who in the face of taanas and untold verbal abuse renders selfless 'seva' to the people in her sasuraal.No matter how beautiful or qualified you are 'taanas' are a must in your inlaw's house. In fact you will be cursed for your beauty or your high post at office itself. Judges are but representatives of our own society and will uphold the societal norms. To change judgements we need to change the society too. How long will it be acceptable for women to bare the verbal abuse in their marital homes? My mom told me something that women of our country have become adept at following 'bobar shotru nei' ( dumb people have nom enemies)..meaning if you keep quiet and hear other people's abuses and do not reply then the others will become silent and become your friends. But I have observed that that is not the case, they become silent but they can never be friends, at best there will be truce for sometime till you do something wrong in their eyes again. It is better to react and let the anger out, then next time when they want to abuse you they will think twice. They will not become friends then either, but at least they won't use you as the whipping bag for their frustrations. There needs to be a movemnet for the opposition of all forms of verbal abuse in the family...specially towards those who are weak ie women and children.The Domestic Violence Act can bear fruit only when, what constitutes cruelty is defined by our judges in their declarations and decisions. This process of defining the 'violence' has got off to a wrong start in India, that is for sure. I am adding this a few months later on finding out that I made a grave error! The above decision was given by a 2judge bench of the Supreme Court of India! This judgement creates a dangerous precedent and jeopardizes the attaining of justice under the 'Domestic Violence' Act which India is so proud of. The judges have defined 'cruelty' as being an act inducing the woman to take the extreme step of suicide. It is not enough if the woman's self respect is destroyed and her self confidence is mauled. In a country where the law says that even verbal abuse may amount to cruelty to the woman, the enforcers of the same law passes a judgement which is completely anti woman in nature. It is common knowledge that the Indian woman's position in her marital home is completely subordinated to that of her husband and in laws but giving legal sanction to the ill-treatment is completely unacceptable specially if the sanction comes from the highest court in the land!