When one talks about violence against women how would one categorise it ? Rape? filial dominance ? wife abuse?Murder in the name of honour?Incest ?
It is a given fact that violence stems  from the dominance of women by males advocated from as far back as Manu the mythical lawyer who directs women to seek protection from their fathers , husbands and sons , in short , defines a woman as a possession , incapable of thought or action .
A study of the lives of women down the ages would show a strong sense of discrimination culminating in the treatment of women as chattels or possessions to be used at the whims of males .
While the statistics for domestic violence and abuse of wives is alarming , cutting across all sections of society , what is even for alarming is the fact that very little by way of punitive action and rehabilitation for women who have suffered abuse .There is also the reality that very few women talk about abuse and coose to suffer silently for various reasons be it economic dependence , societal or parental pressure .

India has shocking statistics for female foeticide with Punjab topping the list and Rajasthan following a close second ,with the trend of child sex ratio showing a sharp decline with regard to females  in the last few years . Coupled with the cases of female infanticide on the rise , the scene appears to be bleak as successive Governments seem unable to do anything concrete in this respect .

A friend coming back from a recent trip to Brindavan said he was horrified to count more than a hundred old women sitting silently in the precincts of various temples . They were all from Bengal, abandoned , victims of emotional abuse and neglect  equal to physical abuse ,and left to beg for their daily meal .  

 Violence against women servants of any age is perhaps as common  as physical abuse of a wife . It would be easy enough to attribute the violence to the thrill a bully feels in hitting someone who is physically not his equal and cannot retaliate and is therefore subject to dominance . 

In the December of 1997 , my sister and her husband lived in a small cottage on the grounds of a large estate in Santiniketan. Across the wall lived S , a photographer , his wife and  their child - a pleasant young couple much given to going off on trips over the weekend . My sister and her husband , inveterate animal lovers had umpteen cats and dogs around the place and late on a Friday night , heard the sound of keening . It was an eerie animal sound and their first thought was that it was a puppy caught in the wire of the boundary wall . Having checked the rear garden they found nothing . When the keening started again -  they went hunting for the source of the noise , and  again finding  nothing they  came back .

It was then that my sister realised that the sound was very close to the house and sounded louder when she went to the kitchen . And in fact it was from next door As they did not know that S and his wife were away they fiorst called out and on not getting an answer jumped over the wall and went around to the door which was bolted and locked from the outside . When my sister was insistent that the noise was from inside the house , the landlord broke the lock and they followed the noise to the bathroom .
On opening the door which was bolted  from outside they found the servant girl , perhaps 11 or 12 years old , severely malnutritioned and therefore diffciult to make out excatly how old she was -, hands tied behind her back , ankles tied together , the rope looped around her wrists tightly and the neck forced over a metal bucket filled with water and strapped to it so that her chin and mouth were submerged . She was gagged and in an impossible position , unable to move her limbs or talk once she was untied and lifted out from the impossible physical position she had been forced into .

Very often the perpetrators of violence against women are women themselves . I   remember a tragic story from my paternal family . My father's eldest sister a child bride at 10 was widowed at 14 . Thereafter she remained unmarried . A classic beauty , she was pampered and cossetted and ultimately ended up marrying my uncle's friend - the son of a rich zamindari family with princely pretensions and a widower with 2 daughters . When she conceived the first time , her mother - in- law , inveigled her into visiting the family home and there , with a midwife got the child aborted . The process used was horrifying . She was beaten and tied up and then the abortion was performed . That  her husband said nothing only reinforced the fact that this had his tacit consent . The second time she conceived , the mother in law and midwife came to their house and repeated the process, this time gagging her so that no sound escaped to alarm the neighbours .

Thereafter ,my aunt lost her mental balance and could not tolerate  children . Although she had her sane phases , she would lapse into another person at times .I remember her once sitting and decapacitating a cloth doll she had given my sister so viciously it turned my 7 year old blood cold . Ultimately she ended up spending her last days on a world of her own rarely bothering to come out of it and acknowledge others .


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post..

The incidents you mentioned are horrifying. Were your sister's neighbors punished for their inhuman act? I hope they were.

Hip Grandma said...

Sorry about your aunt. What could be the reason behind this kind of behavior? I mean was her husband worried that she may not love his children by his first wife if she had children of her own? Whatever the reason the treatment she was given is inhuman to say the least.

dipali said...

What horrendous incidents. If only the guilty were punished for such misdeeds, instead of leaving the innocent to suffer, mosatly unheard.

Sue said...

Do you know what happened to your sister's neighbours? Please ask her.

Your aunt's story is desperately sad.

sukanya said...

like everyone else, am curious what happened to those cruel neighbors...were they caught? did the little girl survive? Your aunts story is also very sad. i have heard about the women in Brindhavan too. its appalling how easily society castrates people, especially women for no fault of theirs.

Unknown said...

Oh yes the police arrested them once they landed up I think and thereafter they went scot free I guess . There was a lot of hullaballoo at first but then it died down.

Anonymous said...

Oh god! I feel so bad reading this Eve. The second incident about your aunt, my MIL underwent the same thing twice with her MIL. My FIL did not utter a word! His excuse was that when this happenned, he was stationed elsewhere and did not know about this.
I went numb with shock when she shared this with me. I was under an impression that my husband's grand mom (my MIL's MIL) is actually a nice lady, but, after hearing this, I was horrified.


How do we know said...

HOLY !&*(!! Such ppl live and continue to thrive! HOLY &*()!

Unknown said...

Anonymous - how horrifying and she kept it bottled up .
How do we know - yes it constantly amazes me as to how these people live with themselves

hillgrandmom said...

Abuse against anybody weaker than one is horrific. The story about your aunt is awful, awful. Why did they do that to her? Good to know that your sister's neighbours were arrested.

Unknown said...

Sue - possibly because they didnt want another child who would lay claim to his money and property . When he died , his family took all the money and my father had to look after her treatment , clothes ,and so on and so forth . Something he could ill afford .

Sue said...

It bears out my argument detailed to a friend last month -- it's all about the money/inheritance, when we boil it down to the basics. I hope her husband and in laws were reborn in their true form as pigs.

Unknown said...


and pig sticked - how about that ?

NWRMK said...

I am so late in commenting on this. Your post is so compelling. The pain that people impose on others is so difficult to understand. It takes so many forms some with no visible evidence. It is rampant in this country as well and I fear we will never end it.

Unknown said...

yes Onedia ..sadly enough -

Sayantani Mahapatra Mudi said...

Oh my God!what an horrifying story! it makes me shiver when I thnk of such incidents.
but why such cruelty for not having a child. they could have adopted some contraceptive method.
they should be punished.