Recently, the suicide of a homemaker and mother of two made news. She had hung herself to death following a violent and shameful domestic incident. It so happened that she was bathing with the geyser on, quite against her thrifty husband’s instruction. When he pointed out the matter to her, she apologised for using the geyser for a few more minutes.
Livid, he yanked her out of the bathroom, and thrashed her for escalating the electricity bill. The rest of the family, comprising her parents-in-law, sister-in-law and her two children, watched the woman being subjected to violence in the nude. The 31-year-old decided enough was enough and put an end to her life. Cases were slapped against the family and police investigation was initiated.
The story will probably do the rounds on social media, family and friends’ circles and eventually die a natural death. After all, patriarchy constantly smothers and pushes countless women to take extreme measures. Most of the time, the victims are humiliated, violated and decimated without qualms by the very people in their families and vicinity.
The rankling tale brings forth multiple issues that need to be understood, analysed and set right. We as a nation are often under the impression that education is the panacea for many ills that contaminate our society. In this episode, the woman was a postgraduate in education who possibly chose her family against a career in teaching. It is unfortunate that she could not impart even the basics of civil behaviour to her immediate family.
Whether her husband was trying to deprive her of the comforts of city life or simply drive home a lesson in good economics is unclear. Whatever the reason, his act of violence proved to be fatal not only to his spouse but also to his future and that of his children. Apparently, mere education can achieve nothing unless it is reinforced with dollops of values in terms of integrity and humanity.
The smaller problem (in this case) happens to be the matter of the geyser which runs on electricity which in turn generates a bill that has to be paid on time. Perhaps one of the guiding motives of this incident was also the man’s inability to cope financially. A remote possibility is that he may have wanted to conserve electricity.
Such being the case he could have encouraged his wife to work and contribute to the family kitty instead of behaving like a brute. Then she need not have been apologetic about the hot water and paid the price for it with her life. She may have garnered self-confidence by putting herself out there and lined her purse with some well-earned money. This in turn would have made her family members treat her with the respect and dignity that she deserved.
She gave up her life because she could no longer live in the ignominy of unreasonable hatred and felt ashamed to display her distress to her growing children.
It’s impossible to miss the fact that the perpetrator’s parents, who also had an adult daughter, did not object to their son’s loathsome behaviour. The report says explicitly that the father-in-law categorically declared that no one was going to save the woman from the punishment meted out to her.
Was he giving a peep into the darker side of marital life to their daughter while supporting his son or was he deriving vicarious pleasure from seeing his son’s wife in the nude sounds rhetorical. Perhaps the mother-in-law, who was a mute spectator to the disgusting affair, was used to such scenes.
The parents of the deceased Sushrutha filed a police complaint against the man who had treated her poorly for years. Yet, they abandoned her dead body because our belief says that a married woman’s funeral should be conducted by the members of her marital home. Their love for their daughter was overruled by their belief in traditions and customs. Never mind if those very traditions had brought about her suicide.
What kind of memories are the children going to grow up with? It would be a miracle if they are able to lead a normal life after being a witness to such atrocity.
This horrible happening has been discussed threadbare to show that what happened in the young woman’s life is a sample of the kind of coercion, mortification and constant degradation that women are put through despite being educated and contributing members of their families.
Our women should stop going by a set of rules, beliefs and convictions blindly to fit into the brutal society. They should become wary of succumbing to wickedness and sadism and learn to stand up for themselves.
It is time we realise that the women in our subcontinent lead life in concentric circles. The domestic, social, economic, religious, traditional and political layers that surround us end up choking us before we look up. The only panacea to this syndrome can be achieved when individuals, families and communities work on strengthening our moral core with universal values of integrity, fraternity and equality.