By Faisal Arshad
Chennai, Feb 3: Women bear the brunt of domestic violence because of social and family pressure and some victims do not have any alternative. The only way they survive is by suffering domestic violence silence.
Many Slum women remain desperately caught in a cycle of domestic violence, some women even show signs of psychological trauma but others conceal their agony. But few women have not escaped from abusive mental relationships.
Women Health Organization (WHO) report published in The Hindu, stated that 1 in 3 women suffer domestic violence. Being assaulted by a partner is the most common form of domestic violence.
Arunsulal a lawyer and a pastor, said that the laws like the The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 (PWDVA), section 498 A of the Indian Penal Code (husband or relative of husband subjecting a woman to cruelty), section 125 of the Criminal Procedures Code (maintenance of wives, children) and child custody laws, these laws favour women and discourage domestic violence. “The steps to implement which target domestic violence unfortunately still failing.” he said.
Muthu Laskhsmi is now cited as a case that inspired other women with her dedication and courage to survive. She was born in a small town called Tindivananm which is around 128 Km south of Chennai; she studied till class 8th and could not complete her studies because there was no college near her home for higher study.
She tried her best to live with her husband, because she do not want her children to feel the vacuum of not having a father in their lives. She even talked to her husband about this but nothing helped. Her husband did not stop beating and shouting at her. Finally, she decided to take some action.
“I suffered him for 12 years, I got married in 1988 and got divorced in 2014. The only reason of tolerating him for more than decade was my children, and family pressure.” she said.
When she was just 17 she got married to an auto rickshaw driver who was living in place called Kannaginagar, Chennai. Muthu Lakshmi got a job as a helper in an export company. The couple was living happily, and she gave a birth to a baby boy after two years of her marriage. But the situation deteriorated after her husband consumed alcohol and started beating her.
“My husband was really loving and caring in the first four years of our marriage, then suddenly things turned against, when he started shouting and beating me with no reason.” she recalled. Her husband started drinking because his business was not going well.
“He was financially depressed, and his fellow drivers told him that drinking could get rid of the depression, but this did not work when he came to home and start beating me and shouting at the children.” she said.
Domestic violence is linked to consumption of drugs, and alcohol. inevitably there is a bar near most slums, and people who are financially weak go there and to get drunk so that they can remove their worries.
“I complained to the police of domestic violence, the police warned him and sometimes gave him their “special treatment” but all went in vain, then I seriously thought of my children’s future, and decided to get divorced.” She said.
After getting divorced, she decided to run a shop, while continuing to work in an Export Company, she saved some money and with her mother’s financial support and decided to run her own business. she started by selling tea in Thiruvanmiyur and after one year, she shifted to Kallkuttai, a Slum in Chennai. where she rented a shop and ran a general store.
She has been running the store for four years. she is happy now as her financial condition is good. Her elder son has done his Bachelor in Computer Application (BCA) and now is looking for a job and in his spare time he spends time at his mother’s store, while her younger son has done his Plus 2 and is working at a local call centre. Women in the slum really admire her struggle and efforts, especially her children.
“I want my children in some good jobs before I die, I wanted them to become a good humans and not to repeat what their father did.” she said.
The two boys had tried to approach their father when they heard that he had been injured a years ago. “we went to the hospital and tried to convince him to stop alcohol consumption but he refused to do it, then we decided to boycott our father.” her elder son Ashok said.
Muthu Lakshmi struggled for several years but dedication produced results. What about the rest of women who were still facing domestic violence and can not escape their situation. According to Muthu Lakshmi through education, women’s empowerment, and awareness domestic violence can be controlled.
A recent report published in The Hindu suggested that the working women face more domestic violence. The study carried out between 2005 and 2006 surveyed 750 married women aged between 16 and 25 years in Bangalore, found that those who became employed during that time had an 80 per cent higher chance of being abused by their husbands than women who remained unemployed.
The research, conducted by RTI International, a North Carolina-head quartered research institute, in association with Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore and other U.S. institutions, examined the association between spousal employment status and physical domestic violence in the southern Indian city. It also found that women whose husbands had difficulty finding or keeping a job were more than twice as likely to experience domestic violence during that period.