For centuries, sexual violence has been prevalent in every society, promoting violence against women. Domestic and sexual violence are significant problems for one’s physical and mental health, and well-being is part of the patriarchal culture known as Brahminical patriarchy in Indian society. It affects people of all ages and persons from all socioeconomic and demographic groups, although it disproportionately affects women and children. In this paper, the author explained how domestic abuse continuously existed in families by providing insights, data, examples, and personal experiences.
Keywords: Domestic Violence, Men, Women & Brahminical Patriarchy
Violence has various connotations reflecting the socio-political realities of society. It has been a historical phenomenon in human society. When a group of people or individuals wants to control another group of people, it takes to a different shape or perspective. Domestic violence exists as a closed doors phenomenon. When we talk about domestic violence, what is comes first to our mind? These two terms, ‘domestic’ and ‘violence’, have their literal meaning. When they mix, the entire notion gets changes. Domestic violence is a sensitive issue, that’s hardly spoken about. Apart from the outside world, our family is a socio-political institution where various norms, values, and practices have been perpetuated and practiced as a tradition and custom. On the same hand, Violence evolve around in the history of society and family structure. It has been changed and taken a different shape and approaches in the modern world. In particular to the Indian context, it evolved and revolving as “Brahmanical Patriarchy”. Irrespective of castes, creeds, gender, community, etc Brahmanical Patriarchy became a common phenomenon of Indian Society and Culture. Brahminical patriarchy is the regulating force of our socio-cultural realities. We cannot study domestic violence without drawing our attention to it. In our families, who are the decision-makers or dominating people? “It is the male, perpetuating violence against women and children in Indian society for ages.” The way our parents ask us to do certain things and what not to do is the reflection of control over someone. We can relate it to ourselves because we have been going through this, no matter what gender we belong to. Moral policing, as per the patriarchal lens, is well known to all of us. We can see how man behaves with cruelty towards their children and partner.
Domestic violence is such an extensive matter which can’t be resolved by our argument or discussion. It’s a controlling pattern that one person exercises over another person. Most women have been suffering prolonged periods of abuse as well as violence. It has a serious impact on women ‘s health. Nowadays violence is frequently happening against women. This COVID-19 pandemic has exposed it very necked. Because of this pandemic, most men have lost their job. which compelled them to stay in their houses. Out of frustration and dominant attitude, they are hitting their family members or partners. During the lockdown of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the violence has increased against women and children. The Covid-19 pandemic significantly altered people’s lives and most significantly family dynamics. especially difficult for women since they had to juggle household chores and manage their work. Domestic abuse doubled from 116 to 257 in the first week of March 2020 during COVID-19. According to official data, the National Commission for Women (NCW) registered an increase of 2.5 times in domestic violence complaints in April last year. The NCW received 1,477 complaints between 25 March and 31 May. According to the NCRB, 30.9% of all the 4.05 lakh cases have registered under section 498A of the Indian Constitution. Section 498A deals with the cruelty of the husband. It is criminal law. NCRB collected the state-level percent data of married women aged 15 to 49 years who have faced spouse violence. According to an Indian family health survey, 42% of men agree that a husband is justified in hitting or beating his wife or children. Consequently, 2,300 domestic violence complaints were filed with the national commission for women in January 2020. Children exposed to domestic and family violence are also at risk of homelessness. Younger people have experienced 36% of family and domestic violence between 2019 to 2020.
Violence against women can be considered a violation of human rights and their dignity. Domestic violence is not about a “loss of control” as it is about total control. It is believed that men have a pre-ordained right to be in charge of all aspects of a relationship based on the Brahmanical patriarchy. A woman from her birth is being trained under patriarchal guardians to be shy, ideal, and dependent. Every girl child gets trapped and oppressed by men. For how many years this cruel system will continue? Is there no right for women to be alive with freedom and dignity?
Article 21 of the Indian constitution says that no person shall be deprived of life and personal liberty. However, this right gets violated in a patriarchal society because women have been subjugated and deprived of their fundamental rights. A woman does not have the right to fulfill her basic need and cannot go for high aim or ambition in this system. The terrible screening of the Brahmanical patriarchal or male-centric society at village and town life is evident. It is not patriarchal who shouts upon but the Manu’s preaches or creed employing their tongue.
In this culture, women are continually being deceived by practicing many patriarchal rituals and faith in the name of love and adoration. For instance, we can see Savitri Brata (for the long life of husband) and Bhai Jinutia (sister keeps fast and worship goddess Durga for the long life of their brothers) as a marker of these internalized Brahmanical patriarchal rituals. The love or affections that men try to show on women are not in reality but a part of their so-called patriarchal system. At the same time, torture, harassment, sexual assault have become common and rampant in society, and even it is considered part of this system.
Whenever a male feels he is unable to control her, he crosses all the limits and uses violence as a method of control because, at any cost, he has to control his wife. Through this, he exercises his male power. Males have been practicing this violence and control because patriarchal society teaches them to do so. “Dominance plays a vital role in domestic violence.” When a woman breaks the constructed ethos of the male-made system, domestic violence occurs. There are many aspects of domestic violence. The dowry system can be one among them for domestic violence in Indian society. Generally, there can be two reasons for violence under the dowry system. First, when a bride denies taking dowry along with her, she gets torture. Secondly, when males get dissatisfied with given or brought dowry by the bride or family.
A woman faces many types of torture by her husband and society for the sake of their womanhood. She is constantly being pressured to die at every moment. A woman is constantly reminded by her husband or family member that she is a woman; she should not speak loudly before her man, she should not talk with other men, except her husband. If she talks against her husband or her parents, one cannot imagine what consequences she will face. She must apologize to them or else she should not stay at their home. When a girl gets married to a person from every moment onwards, she gets right on her husband’s property and everything. However, practically it does not happen. We never see such a thing in our society.
Domestic violence is an everyday phenomenon that mostly happens only against women. Men who do not practice violence over his wife or women are considered transgender in a derogatory sense by the male-dominated society. Domestic violence cannot be abolished because it is a part of the Brahminical societal structure practiced for a long time. The Brahmanical system has influenced our people. Man worships goddess-like Saraswathi and Durga for his well-being, but he forgets that his wife and mother save him from many difficulties. A woman is always there to support a man. She never goes against her husband. For the sake of her family pride, she bears all types of torture, harassment, and injustices.
I would like to share my experience that my family is highly male-dominated, where nobody recognizes a woman’s value. We are 11 woman’s members including little girls and others 5 are males, the male members of my family always order my mother and other women to work and fulfill household work and other needs. Women are treated as a thing. Male members never allow us to speak, and the male members ignore even our opinion or suggestions. They tell us “you are a girl; your suggestion will not be accepted, so it is better to shut your mouth and stay on your limit.” We just have to live according to their rule or indication; otherwise, they warn us to get out of the home. They said that we have many women members in our family, there is nothing to be affected in your absence.
My parents often fight because my father is a drunkard; whenever my mom advises him to quit liquor, the fight breaks out. One day, my father drank and came home; my mother simply asked him why he is drinking every day? Your health is in ill conditions. We cannot even imagine that how much he gets angry at my mom. He angrily orders my mom to get out of the home; who are you to stop me drinking. I am earning money so that I will drink according to my persistence. I am unable to understand that where she was wrong. She advises him to quit liquor because she loves him, making a more peaceful home. She says to my father because she is the only one who will face a problem in the near future if something happens to her father. Nevertheless, my father does not understand her and abuses her with cruelty. “It is quite natural that man behaves in such a way to uphold his interest and needs. We can see how a man enjoys many privileges in society despite being immoral.”
Man can keep a relationship with another lady which is normalized and has become common in society. Nevertheless, he cannot see a woman talk to another man. A man never critics another man in another affair, but he supports him. He seeks a virgin girl to get married. For him losing virginity is a sin. He wants a virgin woman. Consistently males raise questions upon women’s character and virtue, although he crossed the line of being moral. Women get torture mentally for losing virginity before marriage, although all-male partners do not hit her physically but abuse and harass her mentally daily. A man’s virginity has no relation with so-called societal virtue, whether he loses virginity before marriage or not, but it is a matter when it comes to women. Male constantly questions woman’s virginity, virtue, dress code, character. Male does not recognize the emotion, feeling, and values of being a living creature rather objectifying her as a baby machine or desire fulfilling object.
Let’s have a fair watch on where exactly all these are rooted through? let’s talk about Hindu religious script or moral guiding books such as Mahabharata, Ramayana, and Manu Samhita (smriti). These all are considered as holy-book, which objectifies women as a thing rather than human. Moreover, Women are treated as either non-existent or second-class citizens in every religion. The male-dominated society, for its own selfish interest, degrades the values of women and ceases their rights. If we try to visualize the society as narrated in Mahabharat, we find it as male-dominated. Women were get treated as second-class citizens. When a mythical character Draupadi threw out as a pawn object in a dice game and subsequently, humiliated in the court of Hastinapura, full of warriors, then we can imagine the situation of a common woman. Society should not associate women with artificial constructed social values like Gruha Laxmi; instead, break such stereotypes. It has been always determined by man only. Why only she is a “Gruha Laxmi”? Why not a working independent woman)? Why don’t we feel ashamed when we call her a Gruha Laxmi? If we study mythical Brahmanical stories such as the story of Sita in Ramayana she had to prove herself pure before her husband jumped into the fire hood. The Puranas are highly biased towards women of all castes and men of so-called lower castes.
Society has been patriarchal in the known history of human civilization. There is a concept that God meant women to be wives, mothers; a woman’s proper sphere was the home and her most profound pleasure to be a good wife, mother, sister, or daughter. How can you say it is her most profound pleasure to be a housewife? She can be a revolutionary woman against your male-dominated system. She can study and work whatever she wants to do. She can prove herself better than any man. Her place is not merely limited to the home. Instead, she is must be free to choose her place. If we think that a woman should marry a man for her protection and live happily, this is wrong. She wants freedom, not protection. She wants the freedom to explore the world and to fulfill her dream.
Male tries to keep girls away from education and property, which leads women to be dependent. Therefore, women do not give divorce, as well as they cannot raise questions to the patriarchal husband. Hindu code bill says, “Impressing upon the inclusion of women’s right to divorce, adopt, marry by choice, lay equal claim to the property and thus ensure financial security.” It is a legal right of her; no one can take it away. According to a patriarchal society, marriage and family are the superstructures of society. However, for me, “a woman without a husband can also take care of her life and be independent financially.” Without a husband, she could live in this self-constructed world. Do women ever think about self-love rather than being loved by someone to be an ideal woman? As women, we have to get educated first, fix our determination, be economically independent and understand social content, which is essential for a woman to know about the assertion.
As a woman, we are the victim, and they are subjugating us through their male power. There are educated women but unable to protest or raise questions against injustice because of fear. So, women have to make mature decisions to fight against patriarchal society, not with any object but knowledge. Like, Babasaheb Ambedkar, Savitri Bai Phule, Jotiba Phule fought against evil practices in society. They fought through their mind, and they won through the power of education. They all are the master of their destiny, and it happened because they were educated. Savitri Bai Phule was a great social reformer who dedicated her entire life towards women’s education and empowerment.
We should educate our girls and women about our social revolutionary such as Savitri Bai Phule, Jotiba Phule, Periyar, Babasaheb Ambedkar, and so on. We can learn from the life of the great Phulan Devi, who fought against Brahminical patriarchy. Phulan Devi was raped several times. She never gave up herself; she stand-alone against the injustice done to her and fought back. That is the power of a woman. Let us live like Sabitri Bai Phule, Phulan Devi. It is not relatively easy to fight against social hegemony. Let us all girl child be a Sabitri Bai Phule, a Phoolan Devi. Every village and home should be known about Sabitri Bai Phule, Rama Bai, Phulan Devi regarding their struggle and education.
Dr. Ambedkar says that “Unity is meaningless without the accompaniment of women. Education is fruitless without educated women, and agitation is incomplete without the strength of women”. Further, he says, “I strongly believe in movements run by women. If they are truly taken into confidence, they may change the present picture of a society that is very miserable. In the past, they have played a significant role in improving the conditions of weaker sections and classes.” Sabitri Bai Phule says we shall overcome, and success will be ours in the future. The future belongs to us when a woman gets an education.
“All men are born to remain free and equal in rights and that these rights are universal”, “Woman is born free and remains equal to man in rights”. – Olympe de gouges
Author: Disha Kanta, BA in English Literature at the Central University of Karnataka, Gulbarga, Karnataka.