“He and his family members abused me. Where had I gone wrong, I started wondering? After I left him,
"Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it probably, without claiming it, she stands up for all women,"
- Maya Angelou
These are some of the most typical statements we hear or read from domestic abuse victims. This is Kalpana Mishra's journey (name changed). For 33 years Kalpana absorbed those words. She could never have anticipated that the guy she adored would beat her viciously, blame her for his failures, and have several affairs. Despite having been through such mental, physical, and emotional suffering, her in-laws and husband's acquaintances saw no impropriety on his behalf. Kalpana, on the other hand, was alone because her parents had died and her sister had drifted abroad.
According to the National Family Health Survey (2015-16), about one-third of married women aged 15 to 49 years in India suffered physical, emotional, or sexual marital violence, according to a report released in October 2018.
In addition, Indian women committed suicide at twice the global rate, ranking sixth in the world in 2016. (15 per 100,000). Domestic violence has been linked to the thought of suicide in women all around the world, according to studies. The high rate of suicide among women in India may be due to arranged marriages, early marriages, young motherhood, low status, domestic violence, and a lack of economic freedom.
When we explore Kalpana's situation extensively, we can observe how much worse her life had become. She was born and brought up in Uttar Pradesh, in a joint family, where she witnessed her mother working all day and night and being abused by her father's relatives. She was the youngest of three siblings, with an older brother, a sister, and a younger brother. Even though she thrived in her education and accomplishments, her father never acknowledged her achievements. When she was accepted into a prestigious engineering institution, her father disapproved of her reasoning, that she would progressively lose interest. But he eventually gave in and got her enrolled in the course. She fell in love and chose to marry while pursuing her Master's degree.
The mental and physical assault began soon after she married and went to Delhi. She was beaten up and verbally assaulted on a regular basis. He justified it at first by claiming he was under the effects of alcohol. He afterward played the victim card, blaming her for his business loss. She was very gullible and went along with it, expecting it would all end soon. She gave birth to a boy three years after her marriage. By that time, the confident Kalpana, who was a natural public speaker, had faded. She was so distraught that she turned to books, philosophy, and religion for answers. But she never recognized it was never her fault.
He was a womanizer and had a porn addiction. Not only that, but the domestic assistants informed her that he had attempted to molest them. Her mother-in-law told her that they were lying every time she tried to intervene. She became depressed as a result of the lack of support and her husband's abuse. She attempted suicide for the first time after that. Her in-laws did admit her to the hospital, but they later requested her to apologize to him.
She was sent to the hospital for the second time because he kicked her when she was pregnant, resulting in a miscarriage.
The abuse escalated to the point where her husband slammed the door on her, fracturing her hand. But it got even worse when her husband started having an affair with a younger coworker. He gradually became more insistent about bringing her home. When Kalpana objected, he began to harass her and threatened to kick her from the house.
He insulted her, showed her obscene videos, and asked her to die. It progressed to the point that he took her to a psychiatrist and told her she was insane. She took sleeping pills one day to put an end to it all. She was brought to the hospital once more and remained in a coma for three days.
She decided to file a domestic abuse complaint against him after all of this. He, too, filed for divorce after seeing this. But the most important thing was that she studied law, interact with lawyers, was duped by them, and discovered that the court system is biased toward men. A housewife has no money, no security, and no financial backing. He hasn't paid her anything to date.
She has also signed a petition in support of a Supreme Court case that seeks to limit access to pornographic websites. She spent years reading and researching these topics and writing letters to everyone from celebrities to ministers to India's highest institutions.
The main reason that such victims then stand up for themselves and go on to establish a job as a trained counselor and advocate for other women is that they don't want other women to go through what they went through. Their main goal is to raise awareness about issues that affect homemakers who do not have the same benefits as working women, such as no compensation for work, no paid leave, and no internal sexual harassment complaints committee. Also, it takes years to battle for maintenance once a marriage breaks down, which is why women don't speak up.
It's also true that education will not address the problem on its own. Despite the fact that Kalpana was a district topper and an engineer, she suffered in silence for three decades due to patriarchal attitudes.