The road not taken: speaking out against domestic violence
According to statistical records, every three minutes, a woman is raped, beaten or harassed in some way or the other. This data was released by the National Crime Records Bureau. A large percentage of these crimes against women constitute domestic violence is some form or the other. But social norms dictate that a “good and respectable” woman should bear it all in silence and not malign the name of her husband by reporting the crime. She looked down upon, and judged, even if she decides to discuss the issue with her close ones, and often, people as close as parents are the first ones to shut her up, and to tell her that she is a bad wife because she complains against her husband.
India has progressed a lot in the last decade or so, but there are many skewed values and moral norms which are very deeply entrenched in society. More often than not, these values and morals work against the favor of women. They suggest that the woman becomes a symbol of endurance and strength, and the only way she can do so, is by shutting up, and enduring the injustice which her husband or her family doles out to her.
Despite the dowry system being pronounced illegal, it is still very widely practiced, and dowry-related issues are often the roots of domestic violence in India. Women whose families cannot provide enough dowry to the in-laws, are often made to suffer for it throughout her life. She is tortured not just by her husband, by also by his family members, and she is reminded of it every single day. From starving her, to not providing her with financial independence, from abusing her to beating her up on a regular basis, these women often have to suffer in silence, because complaining openly is frowned upon, and most of these women are ultimately driven to kill themselves.
In order for things to change, and for women to be able to speak up for themselves, the perspective of the whole gender needs to change. Women need to support other women and they need to think beyond the narrow confines of the incredibly patriarchal society. Women need to start voicing their feelings more eloquently and fearlessly. History is proof of the fact that when one woman decides to raise her voice, others soon join her. Often, women who have been victims of domestic violence themselves, will ask other women to shut up and take it all in. This is partly because of the frustration that they were never able to voice out their own plight, and also, partly because of fear of what people might think.
Women who are victims of violence in India need to realize the fact that dignity and honesty are not on either sides of the line. There is great dignity is standing up for oneself. There is dignity is voicing out the injustices doled out to you, and there is dignity is helping others do the same. There is, however, no dignity is slowly becoming a hollow shell of a woman, whose self-respect and happiness has been eroded away by years of torture and domestic violence. One woman needs to stand up, and the others will follow, fearlessly.