Monday, February 10, 2014

Wife misbehaving? Just beat her...its so sad when that happens

Some days ago, we were returning from an event late in the night.  As we were driving along the highway, somewhere near Goregaon, an auto rickshaw passed by us. For a while it was driving beside us and to my shock I saw a woman in the backseat who was pinned to the ground and a man was stomping on her stomach while she was writhing in pain. The driver of the rickshaw driver drove on completely nonchalantly about what was happening behind him.
My first thought was that the woman was being molested, because of the position she was in the auto. So I rolled down my window and yelled at the man to stop driving and as he slowed down, the woman managed to escape and jumped out of the moving vehicle to run towards us. I realized that she was a slum dweller from her dressing and demeanor. As we slowed down and blocked their way, she started banging on my passenger window asking for help. She smelt a bit strange and I suspected that she had been drinking.

The man who was beating her came to my husband’s driver window and was very calm. “Sir, he said…she’s my wife and she runs way to drink and then creates a ruckus. Every day I have to look for her and bring her back.”

“I’m going to call the police,” my husband threatened.
“Please do so, I am not lying,” he pleaded.
The woman kept banging on my passenger window and was trying to open the backseat. Should I believe the man? Should I believe the woman? In all this commotion I had completely forgotten about my nine-year-old daughter who was witnessing the tamasha. She was petrified and more so when the woman began to bang on her side of the door.

As the man reasoned with my husband, trying to convince him that she was his wife, the woman continued to yell and scream. By then, I realised that there was no sexual harassment happening here simply because if the intention of those men had been to rape or kidnap her, they would have fled the scene by now. Secondly, the auto rickshaw driver, too was calmly looking at the goings on. So he probably knew the couple and what they were capable off.

Were they genuinely fighting? Was it a team of thieves trying to get us out of our vehicles?
Did they have any hidden weapons?

My daughter was really scared and so mutually deciding that it was after all, a domestic matter, we decided that it was best to drive off. Also, the woman did seem drunk and was out of control. So the cops would not have much patience for a case of domestic violence which had gone awry.

Domestic violence…in some societies, it was so commonplace.  But as a society, though we cannot avoid certain things, we can certainly try and protest against them.

Just because she was probably an alcoholic, stamping on her stomach was not the way to teach her a lesson. Would she do the same thing, if the roles were reversed? Probably not. Some sections of the society, the very low and ironically, the very high, are still taught that beating the wife is one way of keeping her in check. Why, just very recently, we encountered a young man in a Pajero, who stopped at the signal, opened his car, slapped this woman who was with him and threw her out, and drove away. She did nothing but weep in the middle of the road. How did we get to be so tolerant?

As we left from there, a thousand things were going through my mind. Had we done the correct thing by leaving from there? Would he continue to hit her mercilessly? Would she, some day, have the gumption to stand up for herself and complain to the police on her own?

I’ll never have answers to these questions because I would never see those people again, but one thing I was certain of…at least that night, she would be spared of further beating because we had managed to scare off that guy…at least for that night.


  1. That's a difficult situation Sunila.. Kinda the Shakespear parody - "to be or not to be". About an year ago I was reading about a similar situation wherein it was an IFS officer who was abusing his wife and was later arrested for the same. Sometimes it makes me wonder if education has something to do with it at all or is it just that some mean men will be mean men!

    1. It's got not much to do with education. I've personally come across some very highly educated people who can raise their hand on women and to the contrary, some men from very humble backgrounds, who are very respectful.

      I think it is the mother who has to teach the sons to respect other women and the daughters to stand up against violence of any sort. Unfortunately, sometimes, I think that women are their own worst enemies.