The final results were out and Mita as expected scored well in her masters. She could now easily apply for an M Phil but there was a mounting pressure from her family to get her married.
“This is the right age to get married. If you grow older we won’t be able to find a good match for you,” was her mother’s stand.
Mita found it futile to try and convince her mother that it was necessary for a woman to be financially independent before marriage.
“I was married off when I was only eighteen years old just after my school leaving exams. Has anything untoward happened to me? This is only a current phenomenon that girls of today fashion. There is a correct time and age for everything Mita,” she retorted.
Mita’s brother, Amit was ten years older than her and married. She was very close and friendly with him as well as his wife, Aditi. Although Aditi acknowledged her viewpoint she could do nothing much against their stance.
Amit who was a well-established engineer started to look for a suitable groom for Mita. He sought his friends help and gave out matrimonial advertisements in leading newspapers seeking a well-qualified groom. It was in response to one of the advertisements that they came to know Rohit a highly qualified boy who had procured a gold medal in Statistics from Indian Statistical Institute, a very revered institution in India. He was now pursuing his post-doctoral besides teaching as an Assistant Professor in an esteemed University in USA. He was bright with a promising career. Mita’s parents were naturally very keen to fix her marriage with him.
“Amit, Rohit’s parents stay in Salt Lake. Meet them and settle on a date for them to come and meet Mita,” instructed his father.
It was on a Sunday that Rohit’s guardians visited them. They were pleased on meeting her and found no reason to object to their match. Now it was necessary for both Mita and Rohit to meet. Rohit came to meet her a month a half later when he came on a leave. Everything went fine and it was decided that they would get married six months later. During the period Rohit was in Kolkata they went out frequently in order to get to know each other more. He promised to keep in touch with her after he left. By this time she had developed a weakness for him. He sent emails regularly from USA and talked to her over the phone twice a week. But the mails became infrequent after a time and so also his phone calls. She became panicky and wanted to know the reason behind his sudden spells of silence but was met with a disgruntled reply that he had a hectic working schedule and a thesis to submit. Her parents tried to mitigate her anxieties. They thought she was being unduly perturbed and unreasonable. But what was unforeseen was his sudden postponement of their wedding date just before a month citing reasons that he was unable to acquire a leave. Mita was very upset and so was her parents on this sudden turn of events. They asked her whether they would look for another suitable boy but she was steadfast that she would marry no other than him. With no other option left they waited for him to decide on another wedding date. A year past by and he kept procrastinating his visit to Kolkata and his marriage plans. Her parents were now flustered and they sent an ultimatum to him that if he couldn’t specify a wedding date they would break their engagement. Rohit was compelled to abide. He told his parents to fix on a date within the coming two months.
They were married and momentarily happy. It was soon time for him to return to USA and since her visa was pending she couldn’t accompany him. When she finally made it to that country he was there to receive her. Life was blissful but not for long. He started to find faults with her on almost everything; her appearance, her personality and her skills as a homemaker. He was irritable and compared her constantly with his female friends. This irritability gave way to vicious bouts of temper and violence. He started physically assaulting her and inflicting her with cigarette burns in the privacy of their home. Then he even started demanding money from her parents. She was devastated both physically and mentally. Her sense of self-worth was eroded. This went on for nearly a year and cohabitation became unbearable. On the alibi of visiting Kolkata she finally found refuge at home. She narrated her plight to her family and demanded a divorce.
Domestic violence is a world phenomenon. The victims are overwhelmingly women and it is a most under reported crime. In India especially in the rural areas women endure mental and sometimes physical abuse because they are not financially independent, come from poor families and face the overbearing social stigma attached to them and even their families if they separated. This is also a prevalent mindset in the middleclass which is now rapidly changing.
More than 55 percent of the women in India suffer from domestic violence and it occurs when the abuser believes the abuse is acceptable, justified or unlikely to be reported. This may ignite and produce future intergenerational cycles of abuse in the children who may feel that it is condoned and acceptable. Many people even fail to identify themselves as an abuser or a victim because they regard the experience as a mere family dispute. There are many cases of victimized women who met with deadly consequences such as suicide and their number is increasing. Stringent laws have been formulated and such cases need to be legally reported.