Real issues discussed by real people
A famous football star in the U.S. is serving an indefinite suspension by the National Football League, after a video of him brutally knocking his then fiancé unconscious was released by the media.
Soon after, the same fiancé who was viciously attacked by him, went on to marry him. That was when a flurry of questions began on social media, many asking why she married him, and why she stayed with him, despite the obvious abuse.
The answer came from thousands of survivors of abuse and domestic violence. Many stated that by directing the questions at the victims, we are, in fact, implying blame on the victim. The emphasis underlined a need to move the questions and conversations to a point where we start asking why men are resorting to violence, in relationships where they are meant to love and protect their partners.
On Twitter, the hashtags #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft revealed painful and agonising stories of thousands of women: women who took to twitter to share their personal battles with domestic abuse.
Feeling too worthless to leave, having no money to move out, being in love and hoping for change, or simply not knowing why they stayed, many survivors came together to ascertain one message: that they are not alone.
Their reasons may echo with several women in India: a country thoroughly different from the US, but a country that's no stranger to domestic abuse. The latest National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) figures from 2013 reveal that over one lakh women in India have suffered cruelty at the hands of their husbands or in-laws. On an average, that's over 300 women suffering from domestic violence in India everyday.
Is it "OK" for a man to hit his wife?
If that is not alarming enough, then a cause for concern is our reaction and understanding of domestic abuse. A recent National Family Health Survey found that 51% Indian men and 54% Indian women found it justifiable for a man to beat his wife.
Do we think it's ok for a husband to raise his hand on his wife? What are the messages we see today in Bollywood, media, society or even at home? Often when a woman is abused, the questions revolve around what "she might have done to provoke him", and not "what gives him the right to raise his hand on his woman".
The self-entitlement by men has been under question by many movements fighting to end the violence. #WhyIstayed and #WhyILeft attempted to address the questions hurled at the victim, and not the perpetrator, which force us to introspect and ask ourselves what kind of a society we have built for ourselves, where a woman, even a mother can think, more often than not, that she deserves abuse.
Here's a look at some tweets doing the rounds:
Break the Cycle
From being a taboo conveniently shoved under the rug, our society is finally opening up to the subject of domestic abuse. Many more survivors are coming out of the closet, with stories of violence and consequent stories of how they sought help and moved on.
Our society can change when men stand up and pledge that they will be a part of the change. When they don't stay silent on cases of violence that come to the fore. When they declare there will be no abuse, no matter what.
India is still far behind on the global movement to end violence against women. With more awareness in the society, the fight to change our culture that gives more space and respect to women, and an inherent understanding to the cycle of abuse by each one of us will give way to a more just and fair society. Men and women deserve to be in healthy, respectful and loving relationships, and so do their children. Let's work together to once and for all, eradicate the vicious cycle of domestic abuse.
If you know of cases of domestic violence, please report the issue and push the pin here.
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