TODAY -

Fighting domestic violence
- Hueiyen Lanpao Editorial :: November 28 2011 -

Angry mob ransacking the house of Niranjan who allegedly beat his wife to death November 26 2011
Angry mob ransacking the house of Niranjan who allegedly beat his wife to death on November 26 2011 - Pix :: Hueiyen Lanpao



Two days back an eight-month pregnant woman, Dhanamanjuri died under controversial circumstances in Thoubal Ningombam. While the woman's family alleged that she was killed by her husband, Niranjoy, the husband's family insisted that she was found hanging and died while she was being taken to the Thoubal District Hospital.

Whatever be the truth, there is no escaping the fact that living was becoming a difficult option for such a young woman who should have been looking ahead in the future with heaps of hopes and aspirations.

Had it been the first case, no amount of condemnation would be enough for such an act, for, the person had not only mercilessly taken away the life of a young woman but had also snuffed away a life waiting in the womb to see the light of the day and experience life with all its lows and highs, hopes and despair, joys and sorrows, laughters and tears.

And even if the women had committed suicide, the culpability of the husband, going by the news reports, is no less. While the husband may be directly responsible for the death of this young lady, the society at large cannot wash its hands off completely.

While Manipuri women, by and large are much more liberated in terms of visibility in public space and economic sphere, this image of independence and empowerment does not hold true all the time.

Manipuri society, while ever prepared to push woman or let them lead from the front in many a struggle and battles on the larger issues affecting the society at large, more than willing to place them on a pedestal for their stellar role, sing paeans to their sacrifices, will not brook any challenge to its patriarchal values and norms.

Even today, despite the world around undergoing tremendous changes and despite these changes touching our lives in many ways, the social norms and traditions which are detrimental to and restrict a girl/woman from fully actualizing her potentials, are still firmly rooted in our society.

A woman right from her childhood is taught by the society that there is a lot of difference between a male and female and that there are certain privileges which only a male can enjoy.

Among these, the privilege of resorting to violence to settle an issue or put the wife into her place or silencing her with brute force is the most invoked. Society has, for long, if not directly encouraged this practice, had certainly turned a blind eye in most cases of domestic violence.

The general refrain being, 'it's between husband and wife and should not be interfered with'. And when things crosses a limit, when fatalities occur, the society turns into a mob braying for the blood of the perpetrator, ransacking and burning their houses, forgetting altogether the impact of this action on other members of the ‘guilty’ person’s family including children. Such acts far from acting as a deterrent to domestic violence, add only to further brutalization of the society.

That such an incident happened in the midst of the International Fortnight Observation Protesting Violence Against Women which was also inaugurated here in Manipur at a function graced by the Governor himself, underscores the disconnect with such high profile observances and the life of the general public.

While spreading awareness about the rights of women and the laws enacted to protect them is much needed, this alone is never going to be enough to secure the life and future of women unless the mindset of the society changes. This is a tall order; the ingrained patriarchal values will not give way easily or wither away readily.

These values need to be attacked consistently with a long term vision from every possible angle.





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