Mandeep Kaurs Must Not Remain Mum Any Longer
The power and brutality of a man’s physical assault on the wife is barely discussed.
The power and brutality of a man's physical assault on the wife is barely discussed. It is considered a private matter among extended family members and neighbours. Till the woman is deceased. The death of Mandeep Kaur in New York makes us numb with shame. It is tragic to witness her cries of torture on social media.
Her death raises questions about the parenting and abandonment of young girls in homes where domestic violence is the norm. These girls are put into the hands of men who live guilt free their entire lives after the assault that goes unchecked.
Assault in marriages is most often on reasons of disobedience on part of the woman. She is expected to accept infidelity and learn to lower her voice when her husband is angry. All this if she wants to survive.
In the case of Mandeep Kaur, it was her inability to produce a male child. She had two daughters in her marriage. This provoked her husband to beat her mercilessly. Many men feel less virile if they don't produce a male heir. This in turn they internalise as the fault of the women they got married to.
Children who are raised in violent marriages remain tainted forever. They constantly live in fear of the looming figure of their father, who many times beat up the mother but remains morally accountable for not hitting them. The children remain confused. They want to protect the mother but also continue to respect and admire the father. Mothers stuck in such marriages tend to find peace in their black and blue bruises if their children remain unharmed.
The multiple questions that arise in the death of Mandeep Kaur are about the colonial hangover that families continue to nurture, the need of getting their girls married overseas. This gives the girl's parents a place of pride among their extended family members and society at large. This is viewed as a financially better deal for the girl, in comparison to a girl getting married in India.
Ashu Kaur, who left India at the age of 19 for Leicester in the UK, said, "It was not easy coming to a new country; it's like the tree that gets uprooted and can never find its roots." Continuing further on the countless challenges she faced as a young girl in a foreign land she candidly remarked, "They kept on wanting to drown me but I kept on emerging from the deep and I am proud of everything I have achieved so far."
Mandeep Kaur is among the multiple cases that go unreported. If we delve further into this subject, one can find an ownership that abusive men feel towards their wives. They are deeply patriarchal and believe that the woman is nothing more than his property. He can treat her the way he wishes to. She must adhere to all his terms and conditions. According to UN Women, an estimated 736 million women globally, that is almost one in three women have been subjected to physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence, non-partner sexual violence, or both at least once in their life.
Jas Dosanjh, an author and entrepreneur who developed an online program for women who want to divorce their husbands, opined, "Firstly, there really needs to be a change in the mindset of women who marry and then begin to suffer abuse, whether it's physical, mental or emotional. Women who believe that they have no other choice, but to remain with their abuser, really need to understand that they do not need anyone's permission to leave an abusive relationship. They need to cast aside societal and familial pressure."
Forcefully married at the age of 19 and been a single parent to her two children for many years, Jas further remarked, "The death of Mandeep Kaur is such a tragic case and what's really heartbreaking is that her children, who she'll have wanted to care for and protect, have been left without a mother and in the care of the very same man who abused her."
Most brutal men have witnessed brutality in their own homes and found nothing abnormal in it. Their mothers have endured and stuck on to violent men. So why would it be so unnatural for the wife to learn a few lessons in her lifetime with him?
Highlighting a crucial point Jas said, "Every woman who marries and moves to a foreign country needs to be given, right at the airport, the information, guidance, phone numbers and contact details of the authorities. She must be enlightened about her rights as a woman and citizen of the new country in her mother tongue. Hopefully, by doing so, they will feel less isolated and reach out for help when in need."
Many women undergo tremendous mental trauma as society does not permit them to talk openly about domestic violence. Often she is made to look like the reason for the man losing his temper. The children are taught to lower their voices when the father returns irritable from work. Some children continue the cycle of violence as adults. Thereby, continuing the age-old saga.
Respect remains the most undervalued word among many Indian families. Here hierarchy is respected. The eldest being the man who is often the father-in-law or the widowed mother-in-law. They usually have little or no exposure to the changing world, but have the last word in the family.
Media too glorifies television shows where brides touch the feet of the elders each morning in the new family. She is considered to be a good wife if she adheres to the dominating in-laws and lives a pious life of treating everyone with as much gentleness as she can. She is lauded. These shows have regressive plots where the vamp is the conniving woman who demands her place.
There are horror stories of fathers-in-law who make lewd comments on the young bride's body parts and sometimes even lust after the young bride. In Haryana, because of the skewed sex ratio, girls are trafficked from other states to get married to Jat men. She is not only expected to do the household chores but also occasionally satisfy the sexual needs of the other male members of the family.
The existence of these women is aplenty. They also face discrimination by the other women in the village because of their colour or lack of knowledge of the local language. The dignity of a woman has been reduced to slogans such as 'Bahu Dilao, Vote Pao (get us a bride, get votes)' in election campaigns and cheap local songs that denigrate the girl.
Many women are locked up if they refuse to obey the rules. These women have their own stories to tell, which have been unheard of for several years.
Mandeep Kaur leaves us hollow in our hearts with her face streaming with tears asking for help.
Hoping that the Indian government reaches out to the two little children that Mandeep Kaur has left behind to her brute husband, who is not just mentally sick but does need severe punishment.
(Mohua Chinappa is an
author and a podcaster of a show called 'The Mohua Show')