MARITAL RAPE – BREACH OF FREEDOM TO CONSENT

Anita was taking time today to finish her chores before going to bed. She was dead tired, body sored due to menses. But she was also petrified anticipating the horrific sexual intercourse she was forced to go through daily, even during her menstrual cycle. She had sought refuge in her mother few days back, but was shocked when her mother asked her to comply quietly. “It’s the duty of the wife to please her husband, it’s custom dear” – this statement itself defies the so called “sanctity” of marriage.

Marital rape befalls when a husband forces intercourse on wife either by threat or by taking advantage of her inability to consent. Then just like any other domestic violence why is marital rape not punishable by law in our country? Whether a stranger, a known person or a family member commits it, rape is RAPE!

Like Anita, many women go through marital rape naming the social and religious customs or so called obligation towards husband. Marriage has become a leeway to force sex in such cases. The role of wife in India is still perceived as a homemaker and having intercourse a “duty”. Apart from the fact that women in India still strive for self sufficiency that shoves many to live in physical and emotional distress.

Although rape has strict and specific laws enforced, the boundaries are blurred when it comes to marital sex. Despite many law commissions and new legislation such heinous act of coercion is not yet termed as criminal offence in India, the reason why it’s one of the most under reported crime.

Marital relationship’s so called “sacrosanct” status has become a taboo. Our society is unable to concede to grievous criminal offences occurring inside the boundaries of the institution of marriage. Marital rape is no less traumatic for the victim and to make matters worse, she has to cohabit with the abuser. It is a violation of the fundamental right to freedom of a human being. However many women still accept and justify this assault as deference. This ignorance makes it even more imperative to provide legal protection to women against marital rape.

Apart from judicial awakening we primarily need to generate awareness to curtail ignorance regarding this domestic coercion. “Amends begins at home”, we need to change the patriarchal social norms and teach our children to discern and differentiate between adjustment to situations and complying to offences. No one should accede to any form of abuse from anyone.

Most countries like Canada, Australia and South Africa have amended and abolished marital rape exemptions from the legal texts. It’s not only our legal but also social responsibility to come out of embedded cultural and religious stereotypes and bring changes in our social values. The legal system needs to eradicate the myth of “conjugal rights” in its books. Every step we take today towards changing the mindset will definitely diminish nescience and pave the path towards appreciating the fundamental right to freedom.

SPEAK UP FOR CHANGE!

It was a Sunday night when my frazzled house-help called me to tell me that she wouldn’t be coming to work… ever.

I was stunned. For any busy mother with too much on her plate, house-helps are more important than their own husbands. I frantically asked her why she had made this sudden decision because she loved working, I knew. She loved the independence and the money these odd jobs gave her.

She answered between sobs, “Didi, I can’t stay here while my husband is threatening my life. He won’t let me be. He’s lost it. He hits me and does drugs. And he doesn’t even care for the children anymore. What will become of my children if he kills me? I have no one here in the city. At least my people can support me in the gaon (countryside). That’s why I’m leaving.”

I knew what she was saying wasn’t a fabrication. Her husband had been very abusive, both mentally and physically, for over a year, going to the extent of making an attempt on her life last year! Heaven knew why she hadn’t bolted back then itself. I insisted that she see a lawyer for a divorce but she was afraid of her folks; ‘what will people say‘. When she didn’t do that I sent her to a doctor to dress the wound. It was superficial thankfully, but the attempt had shaken her to the core, as it would. The police had refused her help because let’s face it, the Police don’t do much in India unless you have connections (if you know what I mean). Sheer will, her children’s education and a helpful sister were the only reasons why she was staying on in the city even after the attempt, but that sister too had lately moved away, leaving her absolutely alone against the wrath of her terrorizing husband.

There was nothing I could do to help her or to make her stay. I was in no position to offer her a place to stay or another job. Even I felt that she would be safer in her gaon. But I did feel strongly that people like her are always trudged upon by the powers that be just because they don’t raise their voices. They never have. Which is why the oppression never ends.

This whole week on Candles Online we are discussing the topic of Raising Voices. For the remainder of the week, you shall have compelling arguments from contributors who encourage raising a voice against some form of oppression prevalent in our society. In this article, I shall be discussing raising a voice as citizens of a democracy.

I discussed above how people like my house-help suffer in silence because they chose to suffer instead of lashing out at their oppressors. But let me not generalize it for people like her, because it isn’t just ‘people like her’ who suffer in silence, but most of the population. Take for example the recent debacle over the movie Padmaavat, which I have written about here. It was shameful that a section of the Indian population was rioting over a harmless piece of fiction, but what was even more shameful was the way the general public was silent over it, except a few brave voices. Everyone knew that the rioting was unjustified, yet people who Tweet or post statuses about what they eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner, or are quick to add hashtags to be a part of the latest fad in the country, wouldn’t raise a voice for fear of incurring the ire of the rioters, while the authorities were, as usual, playing coy of stamping out the riots for ‘political reasons’.

Coming back to the point of the unhelpful Police, have any of you lost a phone, or a vehicle and have been turned out by the Police with the statement, “Lodge an FIR, and then we’ll see”? Or have you heard that a rape or an assault victim, especially a woman, has been taunted by the Police, “If you dress like that, or roam around at that hour, its bound to happen”? Or have you ever faced a wall of stone when you approached the Police about your grievances against a political big-wig? And how many of you have taken action against such latent oppression?

The Police are not the only authority or institution that feeds on the fear or worse still, the apathy of the public to get away with it. Every authority, when it does not have the ‘check’ of a watchful public, becomes a dictatorship, even a democracy like ours that is ostensibly of the people, for the people and by the people.

Forget about the government and other authorities, sections of our population face oppression and maltreatment at the hands of those who wield power over them in some way – like my house-help who couldn’t speak up about her oppression for months because of her husband or her in-laws who forced her into silence in the name of saving the marriage. Or abused children who can’t speak up about the heinous acts done to them because of fear of retaliation and ridicule from their families.

You may say, and your point would be valid, that no good has ever come from raising voices against oppression; you would only be beating yourself down while the powers that be will be quick to dismiss you, maybe even kill you! Some of you may say that ‘the system’ won’t allow any changes. Yes, maybe in the short-term it won’t, but in the long-term, it will. You and I may not be able to see that change, but at least our children will because we dared to do it. 

History has taught us that changes come only when a voice is raised against oppression –

The bans on Sati, child marriage, untouchability, apartheid, and the right of women to vote, to study in general schools and colleges, and to own property, these changes all came about because someone dared to say ‘no’.

Having seen what it is like to be in a Democracy, I think it is time that we stopped relying on the power of our votes alone to bring about changes. All political parties, all elected candidates, all oppressive factions of societies suffer from selective amnesia after they come to power. They may write off their promises to us, giving an excuse of authoritative encumbrances or may just shrug us off like dust on their shoulders after they’ve received our votes. The easiest medium of change is raising a voice because it brings immediate attention to an existing grievance. No one achieved anything by staying silent in the face of oppression. Even Mahatma Gandhi’s Civil Disobedience and Satyagraha movements relied on silent disobedience against the oppression of the British.

We are born free and the same powers that gave the oppressor their voices gave us a voice too. We have the additional right to freedom of thought and expression granted by a Constitution that claims to belong to its people.

Speak up for change!

Let your oppression be known.

Your voice makes this society, this nation.

Make it matter. 

 

Image Source: Ninocare at Pixabay.

 

OH!! SILLY ME!!

With all these going around me, I am unable to think and write anything. I have to cook, I have to go to the washroom, I have a book to finish, I need to eat my dessert, I have to finish that craft work, I, I, I…. Wait! She told me to take care of a certain thing. What was it??? Can’t remember…. (Mmm! She is so nice that she remembered to tell me to see through. She is so caring. She has a beautiful house and a wonderful interior. I love her vase and those beautiful flowers in it. She even keeps her kitchen so clean and tidy. How can she?) – All happens within the thought bubble. Just a small sound of the baby getting up. Done. All the pending chores go unattended because of the random silly thought about my friend.

Yes, yet again I wasted my precious hour thinking. It’s not only that I get thoughts about my friends and their clean houses but also other things.

Recently, I got my daughter’s admission done in a school nearby. Hence, I get thoughts many random thoughts about her school life. Some like,

  1. She missing me and crying
  2. Getting hurt while playing
  3. Doing some stuffs I never knew she could
  4. Speaking a full statement (she still doesn’t speak a full statement)
  5. Getting her friends’ home or going to their place.
  6. Studying and doing good and making us proud parents.

Many thoughts are happy and some painful. Still, anxiety and excitement takes a toll time and again. Another recent example of my silly thoughts is about yesterday night when I was preparing food for my husband’s colleagues for their potluck. I, constantly had a pinging thought about them, complaining that the food is not good enough and everything. Well, silly of course!!

This process of thinking and then dreaming and day dreaming about stuffs have been there with me since my childhood. When I was a kid, I used to think that I had super powerful eyes. I could see the sparkling things in the sun rays. Later discovering those were dust particles and everyone could see them. I even day dreamed of becoming thin and then becoming very famous for becoming thin all of a sudden. Well, it definitely never happened! I thought of killing all bad guys, who came to trouble my mother with one slap, almost every time we went to market. I even killed a man in my head, for talking badly to my father in front of me. I even thought of looking angrily at my dad, while I was being scolded, and then being scolded for not being attentive. I even thought that the moon followed us everywhere we went. I even thought it came from the devil to haunt us. I even had a mysterious hand which was under my bed, all ready to grab me by my feet at night.

These are a few of my achievement and they do continue till date. The only difference being that the thoughts have matured along with me. Now my thoughts are clear and they let me know my inner feelings. I get scared at times when I finish dreaming them. My God!! I can be very dangerous at times! Haha. Life is too short. Silly things make it worth living.

If people never did silly things nothing intelligent would ever get done – Ludwig Wittgenstein

IMAGINATION DOESN’T HAVE A HEAD AND TAIL… IT HAS WINGS

India has lost 5 wickets for only 132 runs and there’s another 178 runs needed to take them to victory. He has come to the crease after the fall of the fifth wicket. He is a good batsman but the bowlers were kind of too heavy on the Indians today. He started to settle down… but he doesn’t have much overs left to play slow and settle down… He quickly adjusted to the situation and has started playing freely. He’s very quick between the wickets and slowly he opened up to hit few boundaries. He was well supported by Ravindra Jadeja at the other end who knows how important he is. Now India needs 128 runs out of 7 overs. It looks impossible but as long as he is there nothing is impossible. He hits a six. That’s the first six he hit today. Once he starts hitting he is unstoppable. The opponents know it very well. He hits a four again. Indians fans are shouting and screaming his name all around the stadium. Its 22 runs needed from 6 balls. Jadeja is on strike and he knows how important to give him strike if the India needs to see the victory. Jadeja took a run and give him the strike. 21 run out of 5 balls. He hits a six, another six and there the third six. 3 run out of 2 balls.

“What are you doing? Did you finish the lesson…? Are you dreaming or what?” My aunt’s voice brought me back to my study table from the cricket field. I couldn’t give my team members an emphatic victory.

There were other times when I used to imagine myself to be a defense personnel and married. I would be assigned to solve a problem. My wife would be also part of the defense unit and we both would be on our bike to solve the problems that caused many suffer in the city.  I even used to imagine that our defense unit will be a private association and not part of the Indian Army. I used to imagine that I would be the second in rank to the commandant or boss.     

When I used to wake up from my sleepmagination I used to find myself struggling to even go to school regularly for my health issues. 

I still imagine a lot even now. But now I imagine some realistic stuff… like, meeting with Prabhjot and Aastha in Bangalore or arrange a conference for all of us to be part of with lots of food etc. I also imagine that my book or music album will be published and all will be appreciating it. But again when I come back to my reality I find myself right there where I was just sleepmaginating

We imagine what never happens in reality. Imagination doesn’t have any heads or tails but it has WINGS. So when we give air to the wings of our imagination by directing them well we become good writers and story tellers. I am an example picked up from that lot.  

Are you in your sleepmagination? Wake up and channelize it. 

Stay Blessed!

A VERY FILMY GENIE IN THE BOTTLE

It is said that nothing travels faster than the speed of light. WRONG !!! Imagination travels faster than anything ever known to man. The mind can be in Sherlock Holmes mystery one moment and Alice’s Wonderland the next moment. And my imagination was always in hyperactive mode, be it any stage of my life. My father loved this trait of mine, as it was my inheritance from him. He used my over-imaginative mind to his benefit sometimes, though it was always for my good.

He and I were bonded in the soul, and so he could read my mind and my thoughts real well. It always left me wondering how he knows exactly what I was thinking. I always used to ask him, “Papa, how do you know what’s going on in my mind ?” He would pull me to his lap and tell me in my ear like a top-secret – “I have a transmitter in you that transfers all your thoughts to me.” I was hell-bent on finding where is the transmitter but couldn’t figure out no matter how much I thought on it. One day, owing to Hindi movies, I decided that it is inside the Birthstone Locket I am wearing. I was scared shit, thinking he will figure out all my naughty thoughts and buried the locked in the dirt, happy with myself. But the experiment failed, he still knew my mind. It took me a couple of years to realise he had it in my heart.

My next stupidity was when my Mum scolded me badly. I would cry and run to Papa. She would occasionally land a slap to make me stop creating a nuisance or to make me read my lessons. My mother’s tongue wasn’t sugar-coated, and she said some acidic words to me now and then. I, again influenced by Hindi movies, believed that she was not my biological mother and I was adopted or may be her stepdaughter. I was possessed by this thought and wanted to clear my doubts. One day when she scolded me in front of a crowd, I couldn’t find Papa’s lap as he was on a tour and I cried in my aunt’s lap. She coaxed me so lovingly that I told her my doubts, she was flabbergasted to know my thoughts and told my mother, who in turn again scolded me for having such stupid imagination. I became the laughing-stock of the family.

Next example of my abstract mind was given when my father invited some of his colleagues to dinner with our family. Three men came, all tall and burly; they were from Chennai (then Madras). They all had dark complexion and big moustaches, they smoked cigarettes, laughed robustly, and my father entertained them with drinks and food. I was scared to death of them. I was sure they are all evil men (again, Hindi film takes credits with stereotype villains, the hero is never a smoker or drinker, think retro), who have come to my father to trap in him some criminal activities and are bound to bring trouble to my father. They had brought large folder and thick files to be audited and signed by Papa (he was a C.A.). Just when he was about to sign them I stopped him and told openly, “Papa don’t sign it, they will make you sign on some wrong papers, they are bad men”, My father was embarrassed, and all three men laughed loudly on my madness. Papa apologised to them many times, but they gave me excellent chocolates before leaving, which I never ate, as I never believed they are laced with chloroform.

Till date, there are numerous absurdities I have done as a result of living in fantasy land. I like to call myself Visionary, Lol. From seeing ghosts that were never there to chasing thieves around the house in the middle of the night with a Rolling Pin in hand, just because I heard a Thudding sound, I have done it all. I have even gone as far as believing that someday I will find a long-lost brother in some trade fair to wondering if the man who lives next door is a smuggler. At one point I believed that I am a Genie that lives in a bottle and another time I lived under the notion that I am a reincarnated soul of an English queen. In days I was obsessed with Harry Potter I believed that I get Owl mail from him and used a wooden stick as a wand, trusting someday it will make my TV remote come flying to me when I say “Accio !”

“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

― Albert Einstein

Let It Fly !