Tuesday, August 2, 2011

On domestic violence

Here's a touchy subject that I had stopped thinking about completely in the last few years. I live in an apartment complex with other English speaking, educated couples, singles, and families. One would think that education makes a difference. But I realized just how wrong I was! On my way back from office today, I heard a couple fight in fluent English, at the top of their voices - there are in fact two such couples in the neighborhood, it may be an adjustment issue so I never got around to "ringing the doorbell". Till today. Today, it was more than just a loud argument. This was an English speaking, educated, big city girl getting beaten up by her English speaking, educated, big city husband. And I could not take it. I rang the doorbell. I had no idea what I would say or do if the door actually opened. It did not. The scream died down. And nothing stirred for the 5 minutes that I stood there waiting. And then I left. But I am sure it is not over.

This is not a one off  thing. I remember a friend's neighbour in Bombay who used to drag his wife to the corridor and beat her up. Nobody bothered about it. At the risk of sounding naive or errr.. elitist, I did think that domestic violence does not go beyond slums and maybe smaller towns. Because education and exposure are supposed to set things like these right, right?

I have a question. What DO you do if this happens in your neighborhood? Do you leave it for the couple to figure out? Or do you butt in at the risk of being asked not to interfere? What would you have done?

P.S. - R thinks I am emphasizing too much on the "English speaking" bit, but I am not sure how else I can explain why I am so shocked and disturbed by today's incident.


The Soul of Alec Smart said...

Very shocking.. You know what? I'm more shocked because you mention the "english-speaking" bit.. So yes, it does drive the point home much better. I think you did the right thing and a very brave one too. I would have probably done the same, and if I was apprehensive at the time, maybe I'd have sought a private conversation with the wife someday. But beyond that, what can we do? I'm quite confused on what one can say if one does decide to confront at all. Anyway, I hope the wife is doing something about it rather than taking it quietly :(

Tamanna said...

Hmmm. You know I am not sure what I would say to the wife if I ever had to talk to her too. I have half a mind to call an NGO if it happens again. Because if they weren't so loud, it would have been a very personal thing. Yup, I hope the wife is doing something.

And now the other couple is at it. It is just a very bad day.

Anonymous said...

I would have done the same... I hope they find their solution soon…
I have gone couple of times out of my way to help people around me…. some time I got myself into trouble n sometime don’t... n it goes on.... even I think the same why why… would well educated people do certain things..…as you mentioned “English speaking...” ….
‘G’ always tell me tune tau samaj saaf karneka theka leke rakha hain... NPO khol de ek..
Arti D.

Moonshine said...

How terrible is that.. in this day and age.. and in urban India. Really sad state of affairs. I would have rang the doorbell.. got someone else too and walked in and thereafter what, I dont really know. I remember my mom walking in , many times to neighbour's house to stop domestic violence. It is terrible , mind numbing actually.

The ad left a huge impact on me as well. Cannot ever forget it!!

The Wild Child said...

I'm not at all surprised by the English-speaking bit. I've known a couple - both doctors, v. highly educated, English speaking - the man used to beat his wife. Their son told me and I remember being surprised. That was only the first time. Since then, I've come across and heard of so many others.

I don't know what I would have done 6 months back. But now - NOW that I have nothing to lose - I don't mind being accused of interfering or "apni shaadi to sambhaali nahin gayi" kind of crap. I would have called the cops (I HAVE actually called the cops on my own father once so I'm not just saying that). I don't care if their marriage falls apart because of it; I don't care if I'm held responsible. I don't see the point in preserving abusive marriages, and definitely not at the cost of the victim's mental health.

Now it's zero tolerance and *just* that.

Scarlett said...

I think you're emphasizing on the English speaking bit b/c in India an English education is perceived to be a mark of class, refinement and good quality education.

Had it been a couple fighting, I'd have left them to themselves, but in a case of domestic violence, I'd definitely ring the door bell. Grabbed someone else too if I couldn.

austere said...

I guess if its shouting/ sceaming only I'd let it be.. but violence? No way. Not sure I'd ring the bell.

What I've learned is a lot of yes, educated, yes, english speaking--women are actually ok with the tradeoff. if you want a cushy life, phoren vacations, being mrs. big boss, and you're ok with constant verbal abuse or being hit-- your call.

S said...

I had read an article in Femina once, where they had interviewed such women (without identifying their names) who were well educated and well brought up- in fact carrying a celebrity status.

One of the women confessed how the man would beat her up badly out of frustration and next day bring her a diamond necklace out of guilt- and she'll forgive him. And few months (or weeks or days) later, he would repeat the same thing again. These women would not come out in open and discuss this- to protect their name from getting tarnished. And thus 'bask in the glory' of name, fame and money!

There is a lot more to it than meets the eye- especially in case of "well educated english speaking urban living" people today.

Anonymous said...

Completely agree with what "A wild child" said....I would do the same, if this happens in my surrounding.

Thakur said...

Interesting post Tamey. And I see R's point of view too. I remember when as kids we would fight, some mummy-papa-uncle-aunty types would always comment "Maar pitaai kar rahe ho. Jhopadpatti ke bachche ho kya?" So I get your point. It’s how we've been conditioned to think – that domestic violence of this kind only exists amongst so called "uncivilized, uneducated" people. That educated, English speaking, "modern" people, may fight, but at least not come down to physical abuse. It’s a stupid delusion. It’s just that most of us never saw this happening in our own houses, so we think it never happens.

I really admire what you did today Tamey. Very brave. I would say I would’ve done the same thing - but honestly if I ever came across a situation like that I have no clue how I would react in that moment of time. NGO definitely sounds like a good idea – but I don’t think they take any action until and unless the victim reports or seeks help voluntarily. You can even inform the cops and request to stay an unidentified reporter. There is an option to do that. They respect your privacy. Talking to the wife or husband is not going to make any difference, unfortunately.