For 30-year-old Reshma Rafiq Pawaskar and Heena Khan, photography was their refuge after they got out of violent marriages. The two Mumbai-based women have a similar life story — both were married well before they could enrol in a college, faced abuse in their married lives and found the courage to leave their husbands. Supported by an Indian non-governmental organisation, they then poured their hearts into their singular passion — photography. Their work was on display at an arts festival in Mumbai recently, and the response they received has given them hope for a stable and secure future. However, not many victims of violent marriages are as lucky. Many suffer in silence for years, if not decades. In this week’s debate, Gulf News readers discuss the issue of spousal violence and what can be done to address it. Post your thoughts on our Facebook page ‘Gulf News Al Nisr Publishing UAE’ or tell us at firstname.lastname@example.org
11:08 Gulf News: Most people still consider spousal abuse as a private family matter and avoid getting involved.
11:10 Ramachandran Nair: Though it is a family affair, it later has an impact on society. This cannot be seen immediately, but such instances create social disparity. In general, people try to avoid getting into such issues. There are people who are sincere in finding various ways and means to resolve such disputes with good intentions, but they don’t enjoy enough support from others nearby.
11:13 Sunil Roy: When one should get involved in another family’s problem is something that needs careful consideration. There is a big chance that you can be misunderstood or the problems may aggravate.
11:13 Saleh Al Beloushi: If abuse leads to serious problems in a family, it no longer is a family problem.
11:15 Gulf News: Many awareness campaigns on the issue fail because they don’t address the ground reality.
11:16 Ramachandran Nair: It is true that awareness campaigns are not really addressing the root cause of such incidents. The social workers must have access to the affected family member; but that is denied on most occasions, thus failing to capture the truth. I feel that accessibility is a critical issue here. Most of the time, the victim doesn’t have the liberty to speak out.
11:17 Fatima Khan: The case known as ‘Regina v Ahluwalia’, which the film Provoked was based on, was the case that changed the way British law looked at the issue of violent marriages. It recognised Battered Wife Syndrome as a condition and gave freedom to the victims. However, many victims still suffer in silence. The fear of being cut off from society or being looked down upon reigns above all.
11:18 Saleh Al Beloushi: A happy family is always found with an understanding couple and education is a must – an educated wife is best-placed to create a happy family.
11:19 Annu Pramod: Good question. A lot of well-meaning individuals and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are trying to address this issue through awareness and outreach programmes. A whole lot of these programmes actually reach the concerned people but unfortunately, all these well-meaning individuals can only spread the message. Finally, it is up to the individual to make a change in his or her life. The root cause, I think, is the state of mind of both individuals when they get married. There needs to be a system in place wherein individuals getting married undergo a thorough training on what marriage is.
11:24 Shiuly Ray: The victim should be fully aware of the facilities available - where to go and how to fight. Ultimately, it is her own fight but the family members and society should support her and show the right way.
11:25 Nazneen Sabir: A good marriage at the end of the day needs good family support – it should not be a compulsion but on other hand it should be an option.
11:29 Gulf News: More opportunities in the job market are giving women a chance to step out of violent marriages.
11:30 Ramachandran Nair: Increasing employment opportunities is not a solution for women to get away from failed alliances; instead it invites more troubles to families who are worried about the future of their children.
11:31 Nazneen Sabir: Well to be frank, yes women are in a good position now, not better but good. Parents are supporting children in some cases; they take a positive approach to fight discrimination.
11:32 Annu Pramod: If there is abuse happening at home, then the opportunities out there would not be available for these hapless victims either. They wouldn’t really have a choice to get hold of those opportunities because if they had that sort of freedom, they wouldn’t be a victim in the first place. Many a times, women becoming independent and self-reliant is the major cause of issues cropping up at home. Many men cannot accept the fact that women are on a par. But this is a free society. Men and women have equal rights and unique roles.
11:37 Shiuly Ray: When a woman is standing on a strong financial foundation it is easier for her to liberate herself from an unsuccessful marriage. So, certain women can get their way, but the remaining larger portion of women are still in the dark, tolerating the abuses without any help or solution.
11:37 Ria Lobo: Women should speak up for themselves and feel empowered. They should not remain dependent and that itself will bring about a change in the society they live in.
11:49 Aisha Samrah: The one being abused will definitely not say anything because he or she is the one trying to save the marriage in every circumstance, but the abuser takes it as a sign of weakness and thus takes advantage of it.
11:50 Fatima Khan: Trust, understanding and a bit of compromise on both sides is necessary. However, when things turn awry, instead of blaming each other try to solve the problem. Finally if the problem persists, don’t compromise on your dignity or life. You’ve got one life, live it. The society that didn’t come to your rescue hardly matters. Don’t listen to the derogatory comments. For every person who looks down on you, there are many who stand up for you.
11:54 Ramachandran Nair: We have to have confidence first. Problems will never end, but how to address them is the critical aspect. The success in life starts and ends there. It is again leading to gender equality. The balance must be maintained to run life, that is a mixture of good and bad.
11:55 Sunil Roy: As always the solution for any problem rests with the individual. It is the individual who has to take a pledge that he will not resort to violence. Similarly, it is the other individual who has to take a stand that she will not let anyone abuse her. The day this happens spousal abuse will not be a part of life.