A little, sad girl sat right outside my home. I see her playing around my area most days but today she was different. She is a familiar face but I do not know where she exactly lives. Had it been a normal day I would have avoided her, but for some reason I was really concerned about her. I went to her and asked what the matter was.
‘My daddy was beating my mummy and when I stopped him he slapped me too, so mummy sent me away.’
I had no reason to judge him unless I knew the correct reason. ‘Do you know why he slapped her?’
‘Because we went to mamaghar yesterday for Shrawan Saankariti and daddy did not come with us. When we came back, it was as late as 7:30 already. So daddy locked us outside and we slept in our neighbor’s place. Today he went to the office and came back drunk and started beating my mother.’
Children are very innocent; she was not hesitant to share her family affairs with a stranger. I gave her a chocolate from my bag and told her not to tell this to anyone else. I left the place and went my way.
This matter made me think about how in our society a husband has no time curfew, how he can go out and come back home drinking to create menace any time he wishes to. But, the same does not apply to a wife. Maybe it’s a man’s world and it’s a man’s right to work very hard and then to go out and enjoy a drink to release his stress. That is fine. But why is a woman always bounded by time? The boundaries become more evident during occasions like Shrawan Sankranti and Teej where women come together to celebrate womanhood but are always in real hurry; never free to enjoy.
Imagine that a man went out for a drink and came home around 8 only to have his wife lock him outside. What would his reaction be? The society will blame the wife for being too controlling. But if the case is opposite, the society will regard it as personal matter because husbands can beat their wives who don’t stay in their limits. In fact, the society leaves no chance to blame the woman for not knowing her limits.
I know someone who once made her husband do ups and downs 300 times in the middle of the night outside her house because he came home late. The ladies of the community boycotted the family for months. The reason for it was simple; she tried to go against the system of patriarchy and created a drama. Everyone soon came to know about the matter and the husbands commanded their wives not to talk to her because she would have been a “bad influence.”
People tend to come up and talk openly about gender discrimination on surface level. Everyone thinks that Women’s reservation quotas on public vehicles are very important, or the citizenship should be given from the mother’s name. But if the matter is of domestic violence, of discrimination, then everybody shuts the matter as a personal matter. Personal matters have caused a great loss of opportunities in our society.
If a husband beats a wife, it is a personal matter and we should not shove our nose in it. If a daughter is sent to a bad school and the son is sent to a better school, people’s reaction would be at least the daughter is being sent to school. But, if the wife is given equal opportunity then we have problems. If the daughter is allowed to go for midnight parties and parents are completely fine with it then again we have a problem.
If the husband is understanding and liberal he is considered to be shameless and less of a man. Well maybe it is time for us to think critically and work on the matter. And we should begin at home because change begins at home.
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