Whither Women’s Rights?

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GAYATRI PAGDI

Remember Kiranjit Ahluwalia from Provoked?

I was reminded of her story again, just the other day. One of the issues widely discussed in India today is domestic violence against women.

Violence, as we know, need not always be physical – yet, the consequences are as deadly.

The signs, however, aren’t obvious to an outsider and, at times, the sufferer too has to be made aware that what she is undergoing is, indeed, abuse.

Sometimes, emotional abuse can be the beginning to what could escalate into physical violence and, in many cases, murder.

SURE SIGNS

There are some sure tell-signs when you are put through an emotional abuse by the man in your life: humiliating you all the time, putting your views and opinions down, criticising you or abusing you verbally in front of others, even your own family and friends, controlling your every move, every action, preventing you from keeping in touch with your friends and family, cutting you away from them and rendering you alone, looking at you as a sex object, or property, constantly keeping tabs on your whereabouts and preventing any access to money. None of these will show on your body, but the scars, and often wounds, that you subject your mind to, are extremely damaging.

Emotional abuse is aimed at breaking you, crushing your spirit, and making you feel worthless as a human being. It leads to constant anxiety, panic attacks, depression, crying spells and emotional numbness. You often feel that you cannot do anything right, that you are losing your mind, or have already lost it — that you are so worthless that you deserve the abuse. The unpredictability of the situation makes the association not a relationship between partners, but a hard time that you are ‘doing’ in the prison of life, and you would rather end it all.

ABUSE AT ITS WORST

Giving you the silent treatment, a fixed ‘allowance’ for your needs, questioning your needs, making you beg for resources if you don’t hold a job, controlling your money if you do, changing your personality completely from where you become withdrawn and incapable of asserting yourself even a little, all contribute to abuse. Well, the list is endless.

Violence against women is now a well-recognised public health dilemma. It is also human rights violation. It has worldwide significance. It is a big risk factor for women, and it also has far reaching consequences on their physical and mental health.

Today, domestic violence need not necessarily take place between a husband and wife. Even if you have not yet formalised your relationship, watch out for early signs of emotional abuse.

People don’t change easily and marriages don’t change people for the better; so, getting into a marriage thinking things will improve, or having children will improve the circumstances, is holding onto false hopes. They almost always are dashed.

Things got too far with Kiranjit Ahluwalia. Don’t wait that long. Call [India] 103, for help… Also, take charge of your life today — and, ‘up’ your confidence, dignity, respect, health, happiness, and well-being.

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