Thursday, September 11, 2008

What does one make of this?

When the new working committee for our Cooperative Housing Society was elected a member, a female resident, complained that there were too many women in the Working Committee, she said they will find it very difficult to 'manage'.
"Why?"I asked very conversationally.
"If there is a problem late at night what will they do?" She said.

So last evening, I had just finished brushing my teeth before going to bed, when I heard a woman scream. Daughter came running, looking terrified, Son ran to my room after her, "What was that?" Husband was away. Another scream. What's happening? We rushed to the window in the direction from where it seemed to be coming.
So many windows, some lit, some dark. And then a balcony door opened a man came out, and looked here and there. He too had heard the screams? Why weren't the other residents rushing out? It was only 10 30 pm...was everybody asleep? Or maybe watching the News. TV deadens outside sounds. Another piercing shriek.
What does one do? Somebody was screaming, she needed help... She could be dying right now? So I yelled in general direction, "Sentry, yeh awaaz kahan se aa rahee hai, check karo...sentry...(more urgent) SENTRY!" (Sentry check where this noise is coming from). A window opened, "It's coming from **** ". Another window somewhere, "It came yesterday also!", and then the man in the balcony, "We rang their door bell yesterday, nobody opened the door."
Was it the right door bell? Oh my God what's going on...More screams. I saw a sentry walking in that direction.

I called the Society Secretary. There was NO hesitation, she asked "Are you prepared to come there right now? " I changed quickly, picked a torch and cellphone, and ran.

We made the sentries wait outside.
No robbers or dacoits had broken into the house. Just a young couple. Both working. (Software engineers). The husband said they were both short tempered and they were just fighting, and giving wife a dirty look, added that she has a habit of screaming too loudly, and no, there was no violence.
I had heard her scream, "you cannot hit me!" just moments before we rushed there. What was that, I asked. She agreed there was violence but she also hit him back. We told her how her screams were heard earlier also. Just screams, no words. Husband looked angrily at her and told her all this embarrassment was a result of her loud screaming. But why would she just keep screaming if they were fighting, won't she say something or yell?

I was thinking, "Will he gag her before he beats her next time so we don't hear her scream? IF he was hitting her."
We gave some ML (Moral Lectures), warned them, ('Next time somebody might call the police.') I made sure I told them that now it was a crime to hit to your spouse... But the fact is we have NO IDEA exactly what as going on. I just hope he was not hitting her...was he?

What do you think should we do...what CAN we do? Is this something we should be worried about?


Mampi said...

The incident is indeed alarming, especially to you all who are witness to some violence. Who did it or who is the culprit, is not the issue. I say this because I feel both the parties are equally at fault for the violence and the subsequent noise. IHM, I trust you to find the facts before reporting HIM as the hitting spouse. Some laws made for the women are being misused, we all know. But there is a gross possibility that he could be guilty of violence.

Monika,Ansh said...

I really do not see what more you or anyone else can do? Being an educated lady, if she lets her husband beat her up, I do not know who else is to blame except her?

silbil said...

that just sounds like a couple I know of. could they be the same people, i wonder...

why would two people, so unhappy with each other stay with each other? okay i guess i am asking a childish question. your letter to the DIL and 42 comments are still wriggling around in the brain...
you just don't walk away from marriages i guess..
hope this screaming couple don't have children

Indian Home Maker said...

@mampi I am not thinking of reporting the incidence. I just wanted to warn the culprit who ever it is...the way the woman defended her husband I doubt if she will speak against him anyway, IF he did hit her.
But Mampi I wonder if we can say, "I feel both the parties are equally at fault for the violence and the subsequent noise."? If one of them is hitting the other, then that spouse is the culprit. The one who was being beaten is the victim of domestic violence.
I agree that there may be odd cases of this law being misused, but I have seen many, many horrible cases (mainly domestic servants)of terrible violence against women. And these cases are NEVER reported. If the family is kind, the couple is told that 'BOTH MUST ADJUST'...but if its a traditional family, then only the girl is advised to adjust.
Mostly the girls believe that if they burn the rice, don't bathe the kid, pay too much for kerosene in black etc then the husband is justified in beating them.

Indian Home Maker said...

@Monika,Ansh Actually I am just not sure what was happening. She was screaming a lot, and I am sure she was hurt. But it is possible that she also hit him back (that does not mean it's okay)...and in such a terrible situation should they even be together?
From what I have heard/read, once a man has raised his hand, he is likely to do that again.The woman MUST leave him.

Monika,Ansh said...

@IHM- Yes, they should not be together. & Yes, I have heard of that too about once a HUsband raises his hand, ther are perfect chances oh him repeating.
But I also believe that being an educated victim is also a crime, especially when u cannot break off because of the considerations like "what will the socirty think?" or "How will my younger sisters get married ?" & such nonsense.
I have a cousin who took the bold step of walking out of a highly violent & abusive marriage & I see my relatives blaming her of not being compromising enough. How Can a person compromise in the face of violence?

Indian Home Maker said...

@silbil They are young. Married not too long ago. maybe they will be fine. Some tolerance, some maturity...maybe they will be fine. Personally I feel violence can not be taken lightly. Yelling and screaming and disturbing the neighbours etc is all fine. They should be safe...I just feel bad...and fear that there is some violence involved.

Mama - Mia said...

that is scary and weird! physical assualt is just not acceptable! whatever be the reasons!

i guess, you did what you could. If the victim refuses to tale a call, there is only as much you can do!



Anonymous said...

Oops I dont know what to say. Brings back memories when I was very young and very frightened ... best not to get into it. She has to move away, but its really up to her to take the first step. Otherwise she might end up either killing him or killing herself

Mampi said...

exactly, that is what I meant that either of them could be at fault.
of hitting the other.

Indian Home Maker said...

Monika,Ansh I totally agree with you. If I had my way I would have brought the girl home with me. The trouble is she needs to at least say something!
I don't think we need anymore to care what society says, society is made up of US and all around me I see attitudes changing and they better change...
We conveyed that if they needed any help we were there...we left our phone numbers and names with them.
Some friends thought that I should not let my kids hear of such things, but I feel let them see the real world and also know that such things are not acceptable.

Monika said...

its a sad situation... i think there is someone needed to sort this out... whoever is at fault or was hitting is not right... may be she needs help or may be she is too smart to misuse the violence act as mammpi mentioned... i just did this post about how one know person has misused the dowry law wrongly... if i would have read ur post some months back i would drawn a conclusion that ya he is a violent husband beating his wife but i am surprise how this once incident is making me think...

just try and analyze the situation before taking any action

Anonymous said...

Call the police. Let them investigate. Simple.

my space said...

This is sad..But I truly believe that you can only help a person if he wants to be helped.. In this case they both are apparently looking at you all as interfering neighbours..Keep a lookout for them and pray..even if you report them, you will ultimately be blamed for being nosy, so guess for now wait and watch..

Anonymous said...

Great thought from you as usual..

See,I don't understand what makes people say "walk out ,walk out ,walk out"..Is life that easy and simple..

Beating,to and fro,is not a good thing and beating doesn't happen where there is compassion.Sometimes,it may happen at the spur of the moment..See,im not trying to justify violence..I am very much against it..But 'walking away' is not the solution..Afterall,beating is not the worse kind of torture..To me,mental stress or pressure is more hurtful..

The situation is very sad ,if the couples have,they happen to be young ones..errr..but then again,that too dangerous,as,if one resorts to beating in the beginning of journey itself,how will life move on..

All of you pls stop judging people on basis of education..Simply bcoz one is educated or working,it doesn't mean that she can fight abuse.

And finally,there is nothing you can do IHM,unless the couple is really close to you and then you both can share and support each other..In today's world not many care for each other.I am glad that you went to look out into the situation..((hugs))


~Hemanth~ said...

I have read the whole post and all the comments before making mine. If I may? Can I ask a few questions?
1- Did you see any marks of violence or at least a hint of her being abused?
2- What was the general feeling you got when you were talking to the guy and the lady?

Now, these questions I think should give you a little sense of direction on what to do next.

Secondly, if get you the opportunity try and talk to the female when she is alone. She might tell you the truth or at least give you a glimpse at it if you are lucky (since, you are saying that she is defending him).

Indian Home Maker said...

@philip Didn't want to call the police, unless one of them wanted that...I thought my warning will let the culprit know they are not living in a jungle and that we are watching them...the police in India is so cheap, I would never want to send a young couple to deal with them.

Indian Home Maker said...

@my space They looked guilty, and the guy said they were ashamed and sorry. I feel we should NEVER ignore domestic violence as a personal matter, if murder is not a personal matter, then Domestic Violence isn't either.
We did not know what was happening - it could have been an intruder assaulting one of them, we were concerned and disturbed.

Indian Home Maker said...

mama-mia My personal feeling is if there is violence the marriage is over anyway. Period.

Indian Home Maker said...

phoenixritu I am not even sure of what was happening...Only this: if there was no violence would she scream like that?

Indian Home Maker said...

@Monika She was trying to say that there was no violence only when I said I had heard her say 'you can't hit me', she said there was violence but she also gave him back. She thought it was all her fault because (the guy told her) she screamed too loudly.

Indian Home Maker said...

Nimmy I know walking out is not a joke. But I know a few women who have walked out and are perfectly fine.
1.One has no desire to ever marry again, she has a son, she is independent and content. She is a good friend.
2.Another one had a bad life - she worked, at home and at her work place, was abused by in laws, and husband kept giving her this hope that he was going to move out with her. Finally she moved to the accommodation given to her by her company. Eventually they divorced and she remarried, and is very happy.
3.A third one I know is separated recently, and as of now, says will never marry again. She is very young, she had married against her parents wishes. I don't know her personally but I am sure she will marry again and will live happily also.
Anybody can choose a wrong partner - they should not be punished so cruelly, we should help them find happiness again.

All three are economically independent. Otherwise they would have lived in hell all their lives.
Being educated and courageous both are needed. In the end it's all about attitude. You cannot accept violence, whatever else you accept.
Do you know women are sometimes actually injured in these beatings? How good is it for children to watch this? Won't they be better off with divorced parents?

Indian Home Maker said...

@ Hemanth Welcome :)
I had the same thing in my mind, but I just could not make out anything. Our Secretary thinks he could have been beating her.
There were no injury marks-atleast none visible.
She looked very worried and guilty. And teary eyed.
He looked very angry (furious) at her for screaming and embarrassing him.
They both were sitting very close together.
He did most of the talking.
She did not look physically weak.
She admitted there was violence, only, she insisted they were both fighting.
I had thought we will call them today and ask to see the girl alone, but I got very busy, reached home late after picking my kids from classes. So maybe we will see them in a day or two...which should give them time too...
I feel we should talk to the girl alone too. I can't just forget about he whole thing, what if it's still going on silently?

chandni said...

sad as it is, if one calls the police, the wife will not speak up against the guy and the people concenred will seem like the idiots makeing a mountain out of a mole hill.

I would still advise, try and see if u can cath the girl on her own at some point and try to find out what's going on and encourage her to seek help.

I know a lot of people will say its her "personal" matter, but really, sometimes it actually takes another person for one to understand that what's happening is wrong and that there's a way out.

chirax said...

Ask the Lady, later what had really happened. We shouldn't be assuming anything right. If she confesses to what you are thinking then, lodge a anonymous complaint and the Man is in trouble. But ask her if she really needs help. BTW this kind of thing still happens in Metros?

k10 said...

This is such a ridiculous incident. It could be a domestic violense issue, or it could just be a arm mtisting tactic used by the wife. Silly of course, but serious nonetheless. If it happens again the next time, i think, one should inform the cops, with a complete background and both options as i mentioned above.
Because if it is a domestic violence issue, then the husband will be pulled up by the cops rightly. But if is just an arm twisting tactic, then the husband will land into trouble unnecessarily due to a mentally unstable wife.

Becky said...

Thank you so much for posting on this. I'm really glad that you're raising the issue of domestic violence because it tends to be such a silent one. It is sad, but understandable, that even the woman in question does not want to speak about it. So I agree with the others who suggested that it's important to catch her on her own; she's obviously afraid of how her husband may react (especially since he was already annoyed that her screams had called all of you there in the first place).

On the one hand, I do think it's important for you as neighbors to intervene, but on the other it's true that you can only do so much. It would be great for the woman to have another place to stay, even just to have some space. But as the other comments have already said, what are the chances that she'd actually take up the offer...?

So many questions, so few answers.

I've just heard of this initiative to raise awareness on domestic violence/violence against awareness and they're looking for contributors:

Imp's Mom said...

First I must say that was very commendable and responsible of you to go and check out the noise, in spite of being a woman. I'm sure the lady who had worries if a woman would be able to do the job should be assured now.

have a few questions though:
1. what was the wife's condition when you saw her? any visible bruises or cuts?
2. /how did u instinctively feel when you interacted with them?

What you could do is probably revisit during the day and check for visible signs of bruises. If you can talk to both of them alone.

It could be possible that they were just having an argument, the wife got hyper and she screamed, realizing that he was about to or would hit her. It seems to me she is reluctant to talk in front of her husband..

now i'm gonna read the rest of the comments...

Swati said...

You have been awarded ! Check my space :)

Nita said...

Once many years ago I witnessed domestic violence, a man hitting his wife's head against the wall several times. This was through a window when we lived in Kolkata. The woman was screaming and soon a lot of people collected. The police came, because someone called them. A neighbor told me that this was regular with the couple and soon people will stop calling the police.
The right thing to do is to make a police complaint, but if the wife herself denies it then nothing will happen. In fact the wife herself needs to make that compliant. In any case, if she also hits, nothing will happen. The people who try to help her will instead become the bad guys!

Indian Home Maker said...

@ Chandni I agree. I felt meeting the girl alone was needed. I think she was afraid of saying anything in front of the guy. Also they were looking shocked, a little shaken, that they were being questioned. This had been going on for a while, their immediate neighbours said they had heard the noises earlier also.

Indian Home Maker said...

Chirax Most of the time women don't tell. They are ashamed that something so horrible is happening to them, ashamed of the humiliation, they also blame themselves for the beatings. meeting her alone is imperative, I agree, even if she says nothing, we will get some idea and we can at least tell her that this is not normal, that NORMAL men don't beat their wives.
It happens in Metros and small towns, everywhere. But I have never heard such screams. Most of the times it is hush-hushed.

Indian Home Maker said...

k10 Ridiculous if she is screaming to get attention? She did not expect anybody to land at their place. A neighbour had rung their door bell the day before but nobody opened the door. I felt she did not want any attention, they both did not want any attention. How could she be arm twisting? For what?
At first the guy denied any violence then he admitted there was violence but TWO SIDED.

Indian Home Maker said...

Becky Yes,you are right.
I am glad I blogged about it, because otherwise I would get caught up in my everyday life, and forget about them. I think we must meet her alone. Tomorrow evening/morning.

Indian Home Maker said...

Imp's Mom I would have never dared to go alone, we had sentries and our Society's Secretary. Otherwise I would have got a group of people to come with me. Police would have been only a last desperate option.
And yes I am proud of our Secretary! Told her so a hundred times :)
Okay your questions:
1. No I did not see any bruises or cuts. She was wearing a full sleeves kurti on top of shorts. couldn't see her arms.
2.She looked afraid, guilty and worried, he looked very annoyed that she screamed and made a scene.
Imp's mom she screamed many times, it stopped, then again she screamed, sometimes, loud, sometimes muffled, it continued. It took us a some time to react, to call the sentries, to change and reach there, the screams continued some silence then some more screams...

Indian Home Maker said...

Swati Thanks :) Honored and delighted! Now you've given me an opportunity to award some other bloggers too!

Indian Home Maker said...

@Nita That sounds so horrible! I have no idea if this guy was doing something like that too. I did see her backing into the kitchen, but could make out nothing.
We are hoping to speak to her alone. Even if she says nothing we will get some idea.

Indian Home Maker said...

mampi She defended her husband and denied any violence. Chapter closed. I won't totally forget about this...I am keeping my fingers crossed, let's hope they live in peace :)
And I do not think that SHE was beating her husband, at the most she might have attempted retaliation. It was she who had been heard screaming on earlier occasions also, not he. I have seen so many maids being thrashed, bruised, and once burnt, that I am undeniably prone to believing that it's generally men not women who beat, don't forget they are also physically stronger. Do you KNOW (not heard or read on some blog) of any man who has been beaten by his wife in India? But domestic violence is a fact of life for many, many Indian women.

k10 said...

Hello IHM.
What i mean to say is that it is a possibility that the woman in question is trying to garner attention to her advantage. Just a possibility

Anonymous said...

Man!!! The worst part is if the wife were willing to complain, you could call the police.. but if both of them are ok with it, what can you do about it?