Monday, December 31, 2012

Violence against women . . . the paradox


I had been wanting to share this incident which happened with one of our inpatients about a month back . . . much before the Delhi rape case happened. 

What emerged from this incident was one cruel reality which stalks many a women of our country. Read the incident and decide for yourself. 

It was a busy outpatient day when a young lady, a mother of 2, was brought to the emergency. It seems she suffered burn injuries couple of days back. She was being managed elsewhere. From the injuries, it did not need much knowledge to infer that the burns was not accidental. The history was that the stove burst while she was cooking and her clothes caught fire. 

Since it was quite busy and we were short of hands, we did not go much into arguing with the husband. However, within 2 days, we had found out the truth. The husband had thrown kerosene onto his wife and set her on fire in a fit of rage. But, from the way, he was caring for his wife after the incident, it did not seem so. He was so dedicated to helping his wife to survive. 

With good care, the lady survived and improved. But, it was evident that the hospital admission was taking a toll on the family. Their total bill was around 25000 INR. They had hardly 10000 INR after about 3 weeks in hospital. Obviously, the husband was the only bread-winner in the house. 

Promising that they would come back for the skin graft, they got discharged after we wrote off the rest of the bill. 

Why do I write this? During her admission, as with all cases of burns we had sent a police intimation. The primary report was that it was accidental. However, on coming to know that it was homicidal, I called up one of the policemen and told him of this. He already knew that it was homicidal. 

Then he tried to convince me on the futility of making this case into a murder case. 'The husband was very remorseful. Quite a lot of people depended on him for their daily bread. In addition to the wife and 2 children, he also had his parents to take care of. If I file a case against this man, the family would fall into poverty and would be on the street.' 

Yeah, what the police man told me was true. If the husband went to jail, our system does not have any provision to provide for the rest of the family. 

Later, I happened to meet mother of the wife. I asked her if she knew what had happened. She knew. She told me, 'Please do not betray us to the police. My son-in-law did it in a fit of anger. If he goes to the police, my daughter would have to sell her body to earn a living. Please do not allow that to happen. We've forgiven him.' 

We had another lady with burns injuries caused by her husband more than a year back. Here also, the lady described her husband as a good man. And she refused to testify against her husband. The case was dropped. I presume that in that case too, this must have been the reason for the wife not to proceed with the case against her husband. 

In our country, in very few families is the woman empowered to live a life independently. I do not have any easy answers for this sort of a situation in which the woman would prefer to remain imprisoned in an abusive relationship. 

I would encourage you to put in your thoughts on this matter which I'm sure is a common issue in many families of our country. 

4 comments:

  1. Sad state of affairs indeed.
    Women empowered to earn a living is the answer in addition to a change in the mindset of males.

    Please get rid of word verification. Thanks.

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  2. God know when this will stop and when we will become humans...
    it hurts so much to read these things...and i gives be jitters to even think about those females who suffer...!!!

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  3. I'm a woman from Argentina and even though here things for women are sometimes difficult, because men can be as the one you have depicted.Here there is a state or a goverment that cares for human rights .this country is far from being perfect but compared to what you witnesses everyday I feel in heaven.
    There must be a way to change future for women round the world.

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  4. Yes, these are common stories, and we die a little everyday, as we see and witness them. What scares me most is that we, too, may start accepting the situation and do nothing to change it - a kind of learned helplessness. That is the most dangerous of all - it has kept India the way it is. I would suggest we KEEP talking - keep speaking up for equality, justice and love between men and women. Like you may need to tell the husband gently next visit that what he did was a criminal act and liable for prosecution, and more, a sin against God and his wife. Has he accepted / come to terms with his evil act, begged his wife and her family to forgive him? If he hasn't, then he may well repeat it someday.

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