January 23, 2009 posted by indiatime
Yesterday in New Delhi, a domestic violence case turned into an attempted murder scene right before the eyes of the magistrate. Geeta Jain had filed a domestic battery complaint against husband Vikas, he had been threatening her to take her complaint back, and there, right before the lawyers and the judge, the husband pulled out a dagger from under his shirt and cut his wife’s throat, almost killing her. Geeta Jain didn’t die, but was critically wounded.
Also yesterday, I watched a TV court drama where Kiran Bedi, India’s most famous woman police officer-turned-India’s Judge Judy, ruled on a domestic case where the frightened wife pleaded her case against her abusive husband. With all due respect to Ms. Bedi, (who I personally do admire and respect much), her judgment in the case played right into the hands of the abusive husband as Ms. Bedi, from her judge’s bench, ended up convincing the abused wife to go back to her husband since the husband had publicly apologized and supposedly repented for his behavior.
I remember the times from in my elementary school days, when night after night, I overheard sounds of our neighbor beating up on his wife, and her crying for help asking him to stop beating her. The first time I heard those sounds, I made a mention of it to my family who told me to shut up and never mention it to anyone in school or outside. In the evenings, I used to see the same neighboring couple walk hand in hand to the nearby park and was astonished to see the dramatic reversal from the midnight madness. As I grew up, I noticed a lot more blue and black faces of women in nearby and distant families, women beaten up by husbands, women afraid to speak up and women afraid to take a stand and walk away.
Domestic abuse and domestic battery, of either physical or emotional nature, is definitely not a uniquely Indian phenomenon. But historically, Indian women have shown a higher tolerance and sustained stamina to take a lot of such abuse from their husband or the husband’s family. And although the laws and the court systems and the environment have been changing for better, the community and neighborhoods aren’t what they used to be. And it is still a huge deal for a woman to stand up and actually go through the process of filing battery charges and following it up in the court system. And India, to a great extent, is still a very hypocritical country when it comes to respecting women - where with the treatment of female fetuses, casual attitude towards eve-teasing, domestic beatings or even dowry deaths.
Oh, I do very much regret my family’s not standing up for the neighboring lady. The elders didn’t think much of this domestic abuse thing until years later, when my own aunt went in coma after her doctor husband tried to kill her by overdosing her with insulin. From those times when a woman was India’s prime minister, to these present times when another woman is India’s president, not much may have changed for the average Indian woman who has been patiently waiting for a change in India’s social fabric.