The year is 2023 and women are financially independent, shattering glass ceilings and breaking gender norms in all fields. In a time like this when women are entrepreneurs, heading multinational companies and conquering the world, some bitter truths are scary and alarming. One such thing is domestic abuse and even though we may not exactly see it happening in front of our eyes, it’s a harsh reality behind closed doors.
According to statistics 26% of women older than 15 years have been subjected to violence by their partner. This data was published by World Values Survey’s international research program from 2010- 2014 and 2017-2022 across 80 countries. It goes to show that women all over the world are victims of domestic abuse and violence.
The movie Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya Hey is a Malayalam movie where you see Jaya, played by Darshana retaliate when her husband harasses her physically. There is a pattern to the husband’s behaviour, where he hits her and then tries to make up with a movie and dinner hoping she forgets about what he did. But this happens repeatedly until the day she decides to defend herself and give him a taste of his own medicine. She’s in an abusive marriage and the society wants her to stay with the man irrespective of the facts. She finds a way out, however extreme it may be.
Aishwarya Lekshmi’s Ammu also deals with the sensitive issue of abuse in a marriage. It’s an up close and personal look into the lives of an abuser and the abused. One incident triggers the well-behaved, dutiful cop’s anger and that’s when things go south. When his true nature is revealed to her in the form of mental and physical abuse, she conspires to teach him a lesson. It’s heartbreaking to see her mother ask her “What did you do” when she tells her he hit her. She questions her mothers’ allegations and asks what right he has to raise a hand on her.
Society is quick to judge a woman for the actions of a man. It’s unreasonable and unacceptable! A man’s behaviour is his upbringing and nature. Why is a woman blamed for his aggression and anger and also subjected to it?
In Thappad, when her husband slaps her in front of all guests in her home, she assesses her entire marriage. She realises how her life has revolved around her husband’s wishes and demands and wants to break free from that. She notices all the red flags and decides to divorce him. She finds a way out of the toxic setup but the reality is different. Most women are unable to share their experiences and trauma with anyone. Even if some gather the courage to tell their parents or friends, society tries to hush them.
Sometimes the victims are your friends, family members, domestic help, or neighbours and you wouldn’t have realised. Most women put up with this behaviour because of financial dependency, societal pressure or are gaslit into believing that they are the problem. Unfortunately, women often tend to sympathise with their perpetrators. They forgive him, and even feel guilty for triggering them, which is absurd and insane.
Empowering women, making them financially independent and giving them the confidence to bring forth their truth is the need of the hour. When we give them a voice, we will hopefully be able to change the statistics.
If you’re a victim of domestic abuse in India or know someone who is suffering, reach out to the authorities. Dial 181, 1091 and 112 for the women’s helpline. You can also reach out to NGOs like The Banyan, Nakshatra NGO and AWARE to share your experience and register a complaint.