Published on February 14th, 20140
Rise. Dance. And don’t stop talking!
A Mumbaikar has a V-Day message for the women who are battered by men, and for men who abuse women.
A few months ago
The phone was ringing at 3:00 am. Your sobs woke me up. He raised his hand on you! It sounded unbelievable to me…How could he? I know him so well…He’s so good to women, to you, to me, to everyone! This is unacceptable. I know you were bruised that night. I was too ill equipped to handle the situation, too scared to get you away from that house. You kept crying…I silently heard you cry.
A few weeks ago
We all met at our favourite café for Sunday brunch. I was so excited to meet you, we hadn’t met since you moved in with your boyfriend. He is so caring in his own way, it’s always fun being around you two. And I am knocked out of my senses when you tell me what you two have been going through these past weeks. My head throbs with shock as I hear you open up to me. How could you have survived alone in that house? How does he not acknowledge it as violence? Why do you not walk out of it each time wordlessly?
A few days ago
I have been in love with your ways of defying structures; we’ve all grown to theoretically understand various facets of feminism and practicing it in every way of our existence. Our conversations reinforce various facts and I register how prevalent and widespread domestic violence is in intimate relationships. We talk endlessly of love, power, and violence. I dissolve into thoughts and images of how he physically abused you after giving up on the ‘discussion’ he was having with you! I feel a surge of confidence to hear that you decided to move on…Passing the stage of passive onlooker, who hopes that this was the last time, and he is so apologetic about it!
Over drinks and food, you have opened up about all those girls in your college who occasionally got a beating or two under the garb of their partners being ‘possessive’. I remember you once telling me: “I like to be with a ‘manly’ boy and well. . .These things come with baggage!”
Domestic violence is endemic in nature! From marriage to live-in-relationships, domestic violence in various forms (emotional, physical, financial, and sexual) is extremely prevalent in intimate relationships. Abusers are not peculiarly crooked-looking men who beat their wives to pulp, they can be the most loving and caring partners who resort to violence after a bad day or might not consider any other way of conflict resolution but to raise their hand.
But no incident is ‘provocative’ enough to invite someone to raise their hand. No ‘mistake’ is big enough to justify an episode of violence. ‘Just one slap’ IS domestic violence. That ‘one slap’ is also capable of ruining someone’s self confidence to such an extent that they start showing withdrawal symptoms.
Will we forever maintain silence around this issue, because it happened just once and we are sure he “won’t do it again?” Each day I get more concerned about violence against women. Because it is happening every day, every minute! Where do we go from here? Do we wait till this violence ends or do something about it? What can we do about it? Is this only a ‘women’s issue’ and does not affect men at all? Is the definition of violence restricted to only ‘physical battering’? No. It is not only a women’s issue because men also get affected by violence. Violence spreads because of sexist attitudes that form a part of a certain culture that perpetrates rape and violence against women. This violence is of various degrees and moves beyond physical battering. It includes verbal thrashing (constant taunting, comparisons, constantly finding faults etc.) as well.
Eve Ensler, the writer of The Vagina Monologues suggests that one billion women across the world stand up together on February 14, 2014 and dance just like that they did last year. This year we stand up for justice for those who have been fighting for it. Let our dance be symbolic, and let’s unite against violence on women! There are many ways of celebrating, many ways to unite… Let this fabulously festive way be our language to acknowledge the violence that women face very often!
We need stories, we need dialogues, we need conversations, and I am angry that we choose to ignore these incidences. I blame the parents, friends, colleagues and relatives of these men who are violent towards women. When will we have the conversation with these abusive men? If he did it once, he could do it again…
I want us to talk unabashedly, as loud as we can. And together we need to talk. I want men, women, members of the LGBT community, everyone to come together and dance till the violence against women ends. I want to scream and shout till the violence against women ends! And in order to stop this violence from occurring we need to dance, fight, yell and talk… As hard as we can and as much as we can!
Payal Tiwari is a researcher on gender issues, and is based out of Navy Nagar, Mumbai. She holds a master’s degree in Women’s Studies from Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). A fervent animal lover and a staunch feminist, she loves to travel, drink chai and read.
(Pictures courtesy ibnlive.in.com, faridabad.haryanapolice.gov.in)