Battling the bully at home
Every 3rd Indian woman is a victim of domestic violence. It is an unfortunate fact that most of us turn a blind eye to this bullying at home pretending that "such things do not happen among the educated or the elite". Sadly, while the poor are helpless to end this trauma of domestic violence due to lack of money and awareness, the affluent and educated are equally hapless due to the fear of social stigma.This excerpt given below is a fictional narrative based on true incidents of a woman who is a victim of domestic violence and the troubles she faces as she battles domestic violence the legal way. “For you, it’s a broken finger, for someone else it’s a broken hand and for another, just a nail scratch…this happens virtually in every Indian home!”These opening words from the esteemed male advocate shattered me to smithereens. But wait, there was more to come… “Ok, you say, your finger was twisted and literally broken. Do you have any proof? A photograph, you say? Well, that won’t suffice. You see, the finger could have been broken by flinging a cricket ball.!” Now, I was left wondering how I could bowl in the 4 quarters of my home when I’m not even allowed to howl in pain? Next. “Did you go to the doctor?” “Yes, I did. He even gave me an injection and painkillers.” “Ok, where is the prescription? Has he written on it that the injury was inflicted by a physical assault by your husband?” Now, I was flummoxed. “Would any doctor in his right mind, write anything like that, to accuse another individual outright?” “Well, then, sorry. It would be difficult to file a complaint in the All Women’s Police station unless there is concrete evidence.” This had me tied up in knots. You live a life of marital discord, shuddering to think what might happen every day. You cringe in shame when you think of the verbal abuse. You are tired of keeping track of the stray skirmishes that ended in blows. You hate to look at yourself in the mirror each morning when all you can see the coward who is cowering in front of you. Finally, you muster up the courage to fight back and put your foot down and say-“No, I will battle the bully at home. I will take the bull by its horns!” and all you are faced with is hopelessness? This, I suppose is what is “Juris et justitia?”- the law cannot fail in dispensing justice. Justice to whom? Looks like the Indian Penal Code is “just” but not to the fairer sex. Now, you may call me biased. But just answer me, is the law so easy to invoke sans evidence? Well, the law is all about evidence, you counter. Is it humanly possible to gather evidence like audio or video recordings when the oppressor or the bully is busy attacking without even the slightest of a warning? Next time, I should probably take a selfie with my beating husband! And to top it all, the law requires a chronological history of events and asks you-“How many times, in these xxx odd years, have you filed complaints against your spouse?” My answer is “If I were to keep registering complaints about every skirmish that occurred at home, I would probably not be leading a family life but busy concocting an evil scheme to frame my husband. And which Indian “Sthree” or “Naari” would be doing that? Looks like women have to take a course on IPC before they tie the knot, what say? Ok, finally, you become brave and bold and land up in the Police station, all by yourself. Without a lawyer, heavens forbid you! Yes, you are now caught up among the Good Samaritan sisters of your own gender employed in the police force but playing your darling godmothers. They sit down to give you a lecture on life, its trials and tribulations and about holding on to the bird ?!.( the bird in hand is worth two in the bush!) If you are sane enough not to let brainwashed, you end up registering a complaint. Once this Himalayan hurdle has been crossed, do get the copy of the CSR, mind you. Now don’t act dumb like me. A CSR is a community service register that is kept in every police station for recording the non-cognizable offences. For cognizable ones, the FIR is the option. A non-cognizable offence is one where the Police cannot make an arrest without a warrant which requires formidable evidence. To register a complaint about a non-cognizable offence, permission from the Magistrate is required. So at last, you have the CSR. Based on this, you can go ahead and file a petition for judicial separation if you want it or if you want your bully to be boxed, go ahead and file a case under IPC 498(A) – the D.V. or Domestic Violence Act. At last, the end, you think? not so fast, dearie. We have more to come. Our Indian legal system is fond of patching up people with counselling and reconciliations. My only question is “Can’t the IPC have an option like a RESTRAINING ORDER like the U.S. to battle the bully at home?”. This order can keep the bully at arm’s length and you, with more strength. Here’s to hoping that, the word “women empowerment” enters the Indian Judicial dictionary.