Archive for May, 2013

Domestic Violence in India Part 3

Posted in Documentary | Photography, India, Recent Projects, Uncategorized, violence against women on May 21, 2013 by tuschman

RANI

Rani had the misfortune to marry Mukesh, who turned out to be an alcoholic. He has beaten her many times, going so far as to slash her arm deeply with a blade. She was the sole earner in the family and in order to escape the misery of living with her husband, she demanded a divorce.

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Her mother in-law, incensed at Rani’s decision, kept threatening physical harm and Rani, under great stress, attempted suicide by gulping massive amounts of sleeping pills. She was found, taken to a hospital, where her life was saved. This incident was registered as a criminal case and she was asked not to give any testimony against her mother in-law. She agreed and decided to leave the past behind and live with her husband and her in-laws peacefully. Of course, this rarely works out and this was no exception.

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Rani and Mukesh tried having another child unsuccessfully. Rani became the victim of constant sarcasm and verbal abuse. He insisted that she have tests to see if she was still fertile—they had two children previously – but all the results were normal. With great prodding, Mukesh agreed to be tested and he indeed suffered from a very low sperm count. After finding out, Mukesh got more aggressive and began battering Rani daily. He completely denied his infertility problem and dared Rani to prove her fertility by marrying someone else and get pregnant. Helpless, she again attempted suicide but was fortunately saved one more time at the hospital.

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Afterwards, she approached the Mahila Panayat ( womens support group) and she was advised to get a divorce and get financial support for her two children, a process which she has started. She is also taking a course become a beautician. She is still tormented by her past experiences.

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UGATI

For eleven years, Ugati has been physically abused by her husband. He is a butcher and if Ugati happens to visit him at his shop, he greets her by a beating and even attempted to choke her to death.

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Ugati then decided to leave her husband for a year with both their daughters and move into her parents home, hopefully teaching her husband a lesson. After returning home, he became even more aggressive and “ he beat me naked so I could not escape”. Her husband even spit into her food and cut her hand with a blade.

During her visit to the women’s support group ( Mahila Panchayat), she felt that her life “ was ruined. I feel pain all over my body’”. She said that she firmly wants a divorce and have her husband pay for the expenses of her children. Fortunately, she has a supportive mother.

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Ugati’s mother is very concerned about the welfare of her daughter.

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Ugati and her mother

VANDANA

During the course of her marriage there has been not even a single day that her husband has not physically assaulted her.

 

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When Vandana married at age 26 she imagined a life full of love and happiness but it was not to be; the brutality of her husband her in-laws hit her very hard. Since the very first day of her marriage, her husband doubted her loyalty and treated her cruelly. He claimed that the marriage was arranged by his aunt, who despised him.

To add further abuse, her mother in-law referred to her as a retard, claimed she was lazy even though she did all the household chores and even deprived Vandana of basic necessities like food and clothing. Combined with the daily doses of emotional and verbal abuse, her mental state deteriorated badly. Living with overwhelming amount of stress and depression, she had fantasies of trying to reconcile with her husband but the women’s support group encouraged her to proceed with a divorce.

Domestic Violence in India Part 2

Posted in Documentary | Photography, India, violence against women on May 7, 2013 by tuschman

Meera

 A neighbor noticed a emotionally distraught Meera sobbing outside her urban slum home and immediately called HUMSAFAR. Meera told the caseworkers a harrowing story: her mother was a sex worker who practiced secretly, her brother was a petty thief and they were physically and mentally torturing her, pressuring her to follow her mother’s line of work and join the sex trade. On her refusal she was brutally beaten.

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She had even approached the local police, hoping they would talk some sense into her mother. The police had summoned Meera’s mother, warned her and asked her to take Meera back. When her mother persisted in her ways Meera telephoned the police station. To her great dismay,  the policeman bluntly told her that her mother was right and she should obey her. The policeman even offered to become her loyal client! Shocked and depressed by the police response, Meera  did not submit to her mother and brother’s proposal. After another thrashing, she overheard her mother telling her brother to “bump her off”. After this Meera ran away at the first opportunity and arrived at the house of neighborhood watch committee member to beg for help.

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Meera, doing her homework, is now back at school.

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Meera, shown here with her aunt, is very appreciative of their efforts in providing her a safe home environment.

HUMSAFAR did some intense counseling with Meera and restored her self-confidence. They arranged for Meera to live with her maternal aunt and uncle, and she is now back at school and earning some income from household work. Her uncle clearly told her mother to respect Meera’s wishes.

Geeta

Anil’s sister in-law (his elder brother’s wife) acted as a matchmaker for Anil and Geeta. They were married in 1995. The marriage was a ruse to perpetuate the affair between Anil and his sister in-law.

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Anil and her sister in-law started beating Geeta a few months after marriage; he told Geeta that he was not interested in any sexual relationship with her as she was not a beautiful, good looking wife . Of course, he was having his relationship with his sister in-law and gave her all the money that he earned, leaving Geeta fairly penniless. She was only able to survive by doing some sporadic household work. She is living on her own, living on only $1 per day.

Roopa

After being thrashed and abandoned by her husband, Roopa now lives as a squatter in a temporary tent in a vacant plot in a slum in Lucknow.

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Roopa contacted Humsfar in April 2009. She had been married off to Rakesh in 2000; the dowry was 80,000 rupees ( about $400). But dowry blackmail continued; her in-laws were now demanding more cash and a motorcycle for their son.

After 4 months of marriage she was sent back to her own family but received no support from them. Upon returning to her husband’s home, Roopa found that he had got a position as a bureaucrat in a government office. His new found status worsened the situation for Roopa; Rakesh resorted to physical violence without any provocation complaining that her family had not given him adequate dowry as he deemed himself to be a highly respected government employee.

Roopa suffered in silence, hoping matters would improve. But matters deteriorated from bad to worse as now her husband and in laws regularly indulged in physical violence and one day threw her out of the house.

A harassed Roopa approached the Mahila Thana ( a police station predominantly staffed by women) in November 2005. They summoned both the parties, worked out a compromise and Roopa returned to her marital home. For sometime things worked but then Rakesh returned to his old ways. In April 2006 when Roopa was five months pregnant Rakesh mercilessly thrashed her and threw her out of the house.

Roopa gave birth to a baby boy at her parent’s home. Her husband abandoned her and her own family hardly supported her. She lives in a makeshift jhuggi (a temporary tent in slum) put up by her in a vacant plot and supports herself by working as a domestic servant in various households. She seems to be suffering from post- traumatic stress disorder and is still under the illusion that her husband would return to her and they could have a happy marriage.

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Smita

After 6 months of marriage her in-laws started harassing her. After delivering her first child , a female, the harassment worsened; her father in-law started to sexually abuse her, while her husband, who turned out to be an alcoholic, decided to live separately.

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Smita, living under a great deal of stress, turned to a HUMSAFAR neighborhood watch committee who convinced her husband to move back home. After Smita delivered their second child, another female, her husband alcoholism had gotten out of hand and he committed suicide. Smita was shocked. Her father in-law, claiming that Smita was responsible for his son’s death, threatened her. He wanted Smita to become his second wife. When Smita refused, he registered a false report to the police and now they were harassing her as well. Smita, living under unbearable stress, turned to HUMSAFAR once more and they got both the police and her father in-law to stop the abuse.

At present she is living peacefully with her daughters at rented house and working as cleaner in a hospital. Her daughters are studying in school, supported by donations from HUMSAFAR’s educational fund.

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Soni

 Neighbors witnessed the beating of Soni by her husband but were unable to stop him. They informed the local police but they did not respond.

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Soni’s condition was critical and the neighbors called HUMSAFAR who in turn , called the police and accompanied them to the site of the crime. Soni needed medical attention but the police were non responsive, placing the responsibility on the case-workers for not having the appropriate medications. After a lot of heated discussion, HUMSAFAR got the police to take Soni to a hospital where she was treated.

HUMSAFAR filed a criminal case against Soni’s husband and convinced him to allow Soni to work as a domestic worker, preparing food and taking care of children. HUMSAFAR was in constant contact with her husband and he eventually changed his ways and started helping other women. He died in 2008 and Soni now lives peacefully with her eldest daughter and her family.

Somlata

In March 2007, Somalata’s husband had beaten her badly and sent her away to her parents home without her children. She went to a police station to report her case of domestic violence and was ignored. She then turned to HUMSAFAR who registered her case in court and made sure her husband gave her equal rights to her home.

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Her husband is now providing her money for household maintenance and her children are enrolled in school. With the support of HUMSAFAR, Somlata has learned to stand up to Rajneesh and he knows he is being monitored. Now Somlata refers cases of domestic violence to HUMSAFAR.