Friday, October 28, 2011

The other face of kind and loving men

It isn't just husbands who are perpetrators of domestic violence.
As soon as a daughter/sister grows out of her childhood,
she becomes
the repository of the family honour,
An honour so flimsy and so weak
that it requires the protection of whips and steel
and guard dogs, and locked rooms
and watchful eyes that follow her every move.
God forbid that she speak to a male classmate
Even an innocuous chat can be misconstrued
as violating the family's honour.
An inquisition may follow
that leaves her stunned and furious and defiant
and ready to defy such diktats.

The paranoid create what they fear the most
perhaps fearing their own inner demons,
part of their own pasts.
For whatever reason, the girl remains
a prisoner of archaic beliefs,
her mother and sisters too, recruited as jailors
all in the interest of her own future happiness
where marriage to a good boy
(never a man, I wonder why)
chosen by the family is the only acceptable option.

The father whose daughter dares to consider
someone else suitable for matrimony
is devastated.
He cares for his daughter so much,
he cannot let her jeopardise her future
And this doting father, who always but always loved his little girl
thrashes her mercilessly with his belt,
the buckle piercing her skin,
the leather strap bruising her tender flesh.

He is, however, a much kinder man
than the one who gets his daughter's beloved killed
or drives him to suicide
Or threatens him/bribes him
to leave his daughter alone.
Or the brother who kills his own sister
for daring to love.

Guide your children well, dear sirs,
your sons and your daughters........
guide them and teach them and trust them,
and let them go out into the world
Well armed with wisdom and courage
with faith in you, and faith in your love.
Please don't imprison them
in the cage of Family Honour.
It cannot be more precious to you
Than your beloved child.


Banno said...

Dipali, of course, it is always the women who are responsible for keeping the family honour pure. How many lives are ruined in the name of family honour, even when there is no physical violence involved.

dipali said...

@Banno: It is absolutely sickening:(
Sad to say, in our great country, falling in love is still strongly disapproved of by the vast majority. And then they often act upon this disapproval.

Orange Jammies said...

Cannot agree more.

Hip Grandma said...

'Guide your children well, dear sirs,
your sons and your daughters........
guide them and teach them and trust them,
and let them go out into the world
Well armed with wisdom and courage
with faith in you, and faith in your love.'

Very well said. Why can't parents be supportive? Very often a girl makes a choice that parents don't approve of. She is abused but cannot come back to her parents for help because they were against the match.

Instead they could do a background check on the boy and if they found something amiss they could at least warn her. If they didn't and things went wrong later the girl would at least know that she could always turn to them for help.

And if the marriage worked well - isn't it what they ought to look for in a marriage rather than family honor?

Towards Harmony said...

So melancholic.. beautiful.
Thank you.

Made me think of Khalil Gibran's poem on parenting.

Sue said...

Your title says it all, really.

Anonymous said...

Very well written, Dipali!

It is sad that parents who are supposed to be the pillar of strength and support for these women turn into abusers themselves.

sukanya said...

well said!

Anonymous said...

Thank you. You spoke for many of us. Sumana

Anonymous said...

Loved this post Dipali.

//watchful eyes that follow her every move// Not just the family, but the entire community feels they have a right to see that a young woman stays 'in control', it's so common for neighbors and acquaintances to inform the parents if they feel their daughter is 'crossing her limits' :(

Peccavi said...

Just yesterday a 'friend' posted in my FB page about how even if it is not the victims fault all the time - it is the fault of the women who let themselves be 'commoditised' and work skimpy clothes etc...and thereby aroused the men who then raped the nearest vulnerable woman. I have put it decently here. The words on my page are pretty crude. And this was by a women herself! :(

All these months of debate and talk about how it is not the fault of women if they get raped, has fallen by the wayside when women themselves think like this - still!!! I'm, so depressed - wanted to just ignore it but I think the larger issue is more important than my freiednship alone - so am gonna argue this stand with her. give me strength....

dipali said...

it is soul destroying, these horrendous attitudes, which we have to fight at every available forum, and new ones too. All strength to you, my friend.

bird's eye view said...

Well said Dipali. There was a nice line in Grey's Anatomy the other day abput how there is a difference between being supported and respected. Unfortunately most indian women get neither:-(

dipali said...

@bird's eye view: That's a great line!

Neera said...

How true and sad :(