Sunday, June 17, 2012

Domestic Violence - a subject too big for Satyamev Jayate !

Domestic violence is too big a subject for one episode of television programming. In retrospect, I would think that all the issues taken up by Satyamev Jayate are much wider than it can perhaps swallow. All of them are perhaps wider in scope even for a PhD thesis to cover after  years of research. So encapsulating it in one episode will surely leave a lot of uncovered questions, aspects and perspectives.

For instance, this article against Satyamev Jayate sounds valid and reasonable, where the story of the death of Mr. Rai's wife Seema is being questioned. The accused doctor has written an open letter to Aamir Khan urging him to explain his stand on propagating half truths without proper research taking both sides of the argument. You may read this article.

These allegations do not take away any credit from Mr. Aamir Khan and his team. They are doing whatever possible in given constraints, to spread awareness of issues that they feel should be highlighted at a bigger canvas. They are not social scientists or activists expert on all these issues. They are just a bunch of passionate genuine creative individuals who have thought of making a socially relevant television programme. You may read about my experiences with the Satyamev Jayate team.

Domestic violence is similarly a large topic. For instance, it involves the husband as victims too. While the very idea of a man being beaten by a woman runs contrary to many of our deeply ingrained beliefs about men and women, female violence against men is a well-documented phenomenon almost completely ignored by both the media and by society. 

According to the National Family Violence survey in the US, researchers Murray A. Straus, Ph.D., and Richard J. Gelles, Ph.D., found that between 1975 and 1985, the overall rate of domestic violence by men against women decreased from 12.1% to 11.3%, while women's violence against men actually increased from 11.6% to 12.1%.
You may read this detailed report on domestic violence against men in the US.

There are various causes of domestic violence. Male ego, 'parampara' (tradition) and patriarchy are broad reasons given in frivolous discussions about domestic violence. They are superficial and hampers the study of the real reasons. There is a need to study deeper for precise answers towards domestic violence.

The answer may lie in the questioning of the institution of marriage itself. I may argue that one (or few) marriages in the living life of an organism is not natural. There are some noted references that after multiple marriages as per the Islamic tradition, domestic violence reduces and a certain calmness is prevailed in the family. Who would fight and with whom becomes the question :). So the discussion about domestic violence can be as deep, varied and convoluted as that.

Let me discuss one of the million reasons that may cause domestic violence against either sex in today's times. I pressume that public opinions on this reason is yet to be formed. It is about the upbringing of a girl child vs a boy child. It is perhaps the reason behind girls doing better in their class x and xii examinations (guessing).

Assume a family with a son and a daughter. From the time, the girl starts to converse intelligently, her mother would talk to her about becoming an independent women. She would brainwash her to become financially independent. She would encourage her to study harder and become a working wife. In short, the mother effectively tells her daughter not to become another woman like her.

Till now this is all common sense. Lets look at how she is raising her son? Why should we bother much? They are men after all. They will learn the ropes of life just like that. Of course, the sons are also encouraged to study harder, and to stand on their feet. But are they told to not become like their fathers?

He grows up seeing his mother getting tea for his father whenever he comes back from office. He grows up seeing that the mother of the house makes breakfast, lunch and dinner. He grows up seeing the mother packing tiffin for the father every morning. He grows up seeing a docile mother agreeing to whatever the father says. He grows seeing his father ordering his mother for almost all his inside-the-house needs.

At one extreme, the mother is teaching her daughter to be an independent working women. At the other extreme, she is not teaching the son about accepting an independent wife for himself.

He is not brainwashed to not expect breakfast, lunch and dinner from his wife.
He is not taught that if the wife earns more than him, it is not a question of ego.
He is not taught that his wife may not know cooking like his sister doesn't. So it is okay to get food cooked by himself, or to help her in the kitchen.

I personally respect the role of the housewife and I think it is critical for the generations to procreate in a healthy conscience, culture and manners. You may read "Lets glorify housewives" and comment if you like.

But the tragedy is that the boy child is not even taught to respect a housewife's need for financial independence.
He is not told about how the wife sacrifices her career for the family when she decides to be a housewife. He is not given an idea that he should share 25% of his salary into her bank account, the day he gets the salary. It may be a sure-shot idea of having a happy married life. Trust me.

So there is a disparity in the way we are bringing up our kids.

I know one family where the younger sister is away from home working hard for a career, and the elder son is wailing away his time waiting for his father to hand-over the business to him.

This is disastrous for the social fabric. Domestic violence and divorces would increase, and we would keep blaming the husband and the wife (and the kundalis !!!). It is really not important who beats whom. A girl earning more can very well beat the husband. A TIME article had commented that an earning wife is much more caustic about husbands spending their money, as compared to an earning husband. Read another analysis on similar lines.

The real blame should go to the parents. The real blame should go to education system. The real blame should go to the society at large that treats boys in a particular way, which is unreal in today's free world of modernity, capitalism and consumerism.

THINK ABOUT IT. Lets change for the sake of the BOY CHILD.


  1. Anonymous12:06 AM

    Interesting read. Some of the blame is definitely in the gender roles parents instill in their children from an early age - boys are not really expected to help with household chores or cooking, and so they grow up expecting someone else to do it for them! Also, I'm sure there are definitely cases of wifes abusing husbands but I really doubt this problem is as widespread as wife beating is in India - so I think it's fair that the show only showed this aspect. I feel domestic violence against women is systemic and deeply ingrained in Indian society, unlike d.v against men, much like the other systemic problems A.K covered. I also thought that another way to reduce d.v is for people to get involved in others affairs and help - surely family members, friends or even neighbours must notice when someone they know has bruises or broken bones all the time, or isn't allowed outside! I just cannot understand the mindset of parents who tell their child to "adjust" and continue living in an abusive situation...

    1. DV against men exist in India too. With metrosexual lifestyle men are coming out in the open.. Verbal abuse is also a type of domestic violence where the men suffers...
      I agree with you that SMJ has done a great job in one hour.

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