A recent event of a diplomat beating his wife black-blue raising international eye-brows is the talk of town, or rather, talk of the world. Thanks to this incident, people are raising lots of questions. Is this an Indian-thing? Is domestic violence in India as common as common cold? Are Indian males prone to wife-beating?
I don’t know how much importance to give to this incident, except that it has proven one thing. Wife-beating is not just a slum-thing or amongst the illiterate or rural folks. It exists, even where we never thought it did, amongst the hoity-toity of the society.
I am taken back to my school-days, when my Hindi teacher, who was very strict and autocratic in the class, and who hated debates, once introduced us to a doha by Tulsidas – dhol gawar shudra pashu nari – sab hai tadan ke adhikari. Loosely translated this would mean – drums, illiterates, untouchables, animals and women, all work when struck or beaten! There was a hush in the class with the girls in the class visibly angry and the boys chuckling away to glory. The teacher’s work was over by just translating it, no explanation given. We boys didn’t need it – it was fodder for all of us for quite a few days.
Later when maturity visited me (though people close to me might chuckle on this statement, but I’ll ignore it the way the girls of my class had done in school), I read a supposed explanation of this one. With the rest of the words remaining the same, woman ‘meant’ vices like sex, desires, etc. Needless to say that the supposed explanation again denigrates the woman, by comparing her with vices!
Men, O Men, stop wording if we are not good at it!
I rummaged through my mythical knowledge, to see if there were any references of wives being beaten by mythical characters, but could fine not one. There have been instances of violation, but none of violence. I checked History, but nothing there too. I checked my family, but on the contrary, I ended up nursing my own bruises! Oops, sorry we are talking about wife-beating and not…..
So where did man get these ideas from? I can only think that this must have been during man’s development days! Man must have had the need to punch his way up, and he must have needed a lot of practice, since they say practice makes one perfect. So our Mr. Would-be-Perfect practiced at home! Unfortunately, his wife did not object, and in the process created a generation of violence-abetters and violence-acceptors. The support-system of man too joined in and we have just found the genesis of domestic physical violence. Congratulations!
Soon after, 'Emancipation' came and left many untouched. 'Feminism' and its movement left few highly touched. But the majority continued the silent toil and kept adding to the toll of being beaten. Domestic has now become international. We are now flaunting such violence in the international arena. Reasons can be anything from seeking divorce (whatever happened to marriages being made in heaven!) to drunken behaviour (hic!) to recession (an all purpose excuse) to Christmas trees (Jesus Christ!).
I am not sure what prompted an eminent writer like Tulsi-ji to pen these words, but whenever, he did, it was then. Things ought to change now, or rather today. I urge women to wake up from the prime-time-soaps-induced slumbers and face such apologies of men with all the might. Don’t fall for the epithets of Devi, Sati and Savitri; go for the kill, I mean go for Kali! Object, if not for yourself, for the sake of your daughters. Protest, if not for results, for the trend that it might set. Do all this, if for nothing, for self-respect.
Finally, can’t help but remember one Mrs. Bobbit! Hail to thee blithe spirit!!