19-year-old beautician was a love marriage. In spite of being affectionate to her, the extra income she gained made her husband feel inferior. He overcame this inferiority complex by inserting sexual power and authority over his wife. He used to burn cigarette on her thighs and enjoy the sex by annoying her. The only place he could beat this woman was the bedroom. When she goes to work, she was forced to have sex regularly. And doing all these he didn’t forget to hold her ATM card and bank passbook. According to the NFHS4 survey, 39% of the daily wage earners in India face domestic violence while only 26% of the unemployed face domestic violence. This statistic should be read in conjunction with the above incident.
Dr. Sheela, a consultant psychologist at Calicut says that the vast majority (95%) of the sexual assault cases came to her was interconnected to the patriarchal family setup and husband's authoritative ego. The suspicion of his partner becomes so obsessive like a disease, and his ego gets hurt when she gets wider acceptance in society than he gets. Along with this, the behavior of the husband and the household in accordance with the patriarchal family structure makes the woman feel alienated from her husband. It affects their sexual relationship and she ends up succumbing to forced sex. Sheela says that there are many cases of forcible sexual assaults faced by women who do not ‘cooperate’ with their husbands’ sexual needs.
The lady from Calicut had a lot of social ties while her 45-year-old husband was among the introvert sorts. When they go for outing, people used to notice his wife and build up friendship with her. This didn’t go well with her husband as he could not tolerate his wife having more acceptance and friendship in society and family than him. He found a way to vend his hurt male ego and frustration by dominating her in the bedroom. He enjoyed seeing her annoyed and painful as he bit and pitched her during the sex. After the continuous ordeals she approached a psychologist for help. Although the torture has finally come to an end through counseling, Dr. Sheela says there would be more women around us who would rather not complain but suffer these kind of violence and torture.
Women are trying to cover up the fact that they have been sexually assaulted in a marriage that emphasizes sanctity. Moreover, the family and community that raised her do not even recognize women for what constitutes marital rape. The daughters who complain of such tortures are told by their parents to get on with them. Daughters grow up watching their mothers reach reconciliation when there is strife in the house. There are also women who accept sexual servitude fearing that their husbands may go with other women.
No Social protection without Husband
There are thousands of women in Kerala live with an annoying relationship with their husbands just because their children would be without a father and they will have no way of living once they part ways with their partners. Women are forced to continue such a vulgar and humiliating relationship due to the lack of income, insecurity as a woman without a husband, lack of education and employment and lack of social contact. The social stigma attached to women as the cause of the emotional distress and hardship of children due to divorce also forces them to endure lifetime rapes.
Those Who Live Fearing Husbands
Jenny (not real name) hailing from Kottayam got married at the age of 21. Her husband was 29 years old. He behaved so aggressively on the first night itself. She was raped several times. It was a situation that she couldn’t even scream. (Screaming is a spontaneous response to torture. But in married life, women are not allowed to do so. The traditions and religions teach that a noble woman should cooperate and satisfy the husband even if he is sexually assaulting her).
She returned to her husband’s home after three months since their first childbirth. Jenny was raped by her husband in the toilet on the very day. This shocked her and put her into depression. Then, a year and six months later, she gave birth to her second child before she was mentally and physically prepared. Nonetheless Jenny would refuse to have sex whenever her husband pressurized her. Then he took revenge by biting her. Now she is scared of him. But she is also worried about the lack of social security that children will have to suffer without their father once she breaks the marriage. That was the response of Jenny while asked about getting divorced from her violent partner.
In India, 58% of women who fear their husbands are victims of violence. Only 20% women who do not fear their partners experience violence. 12% of women experienced violence during the first two years of marriage while 23% have experienced violence within five years (NFHS survey).
According to a study released by UNPF's Masculinity Intimate Partner Violence and Son Preference in India in 2014, 77% of women in India say that husbands expect their consent whenever they want to have sex. 57.5% of men and 42.5% of women believe that husbands should not be denied sex. 93% of men and 85% of women believe that men need to be rude to be considered as real men.
17.8 % men believe that they have every right to be angry and scold their wives if they deny sex whenever they want it
6.4 % think that they need not to provide financial assistance to their wives if they refuse to satisfy their sexual needs
4.3% think they can rape their wives if they deny them sex
6.6 % think that they can have sex with other women if their wives deny them sex anytime
77.6 % do not agree with any of these unethical activities
The newlywed couple from Thrissur went for honeymoon in Himachal Pradesh. There was no physical contact between the pair until they set off their honeymoon trip as the girl was not mentally prepared. But her husband had high expectations as they went to Himachal spending a lot of money. The pressure was exerted on the girl. But the girl was yet not mentally prepared for sex. The guy raped her when she got out of the hotel's washroom. She bled heavily and was taken to hospital for stitching. The honeymoon lasted for three more days. The girl called her sister and told her about the ordeals. But her sister simplified the rape by jokingly asking that they should have done sex taking care of their body. The girl remains in the relationship following her family’s advice.
As far as the married women in Kerala are concerned most of them are going to an alien environment which is entirely different from they were accustomed till then. This insecurity will be even harder in arranged marriages. So it takes time to adapt to the new lifestyle. But there are at least some men who want sex on the first night itself. This increases the women’s fear of having sex.
“The wedding knot in your neck is the result of my hard work, so I have every right to do whatever I wish to do with you”. This was the remarks of the husband of Ruksana from Malappuram on their first night. She was married off when she was studying in 11th class. Hence she was not mature enough to tell no to her husband or to resist him. She felt that her husband treated her like a prostitute as she was not mentally prepared. She was forced to oral sex during menstruation. If not yielded, her husband would rape her threatening that he will share bed with other women. She was trapped in a relationship that she didn’t like because she did not have any self-reliable job or higher education. Now she got divorced from her husband.
The Impact of Education
The education of husbands and wives has an impact on sexual abuse as well. In India, 41% of married women without school education face physical violence from their spouses, compared to 17% of women who have completed Plus Two education. Only 3% of married women who completed higher secondary level are sexually abused, while 9% of those who do not go to school are victims of marital rape.
21% of educated husbands are prone to abusing their spouses (mentally, physically and sexually), compared to 45% of uneducated husbands. If both partners have equal education, the risk of female partner getting abused is only 24% and the risk of sexual assault is only 4.7%. If both partners are uneducated, the risk of woman getting physically assaulted is 46% while the risk of sexual assault is 9.8%.
Haseena, 27, is studying at a renowned university in Malabar. She got married at the age of 19. Her husband who works in a trading company has no higher education. The educational gap between the two is reflected in their marital life. He goes to the store in the morning and comes home to eat at noon. Every day he persuades her to have sex. Most of the days she was forced to watch pornography and have sex. Haseena has also undergone for unnatural sex. She is yet to recover from the shock after she was once raped as she was tied up on bed. But one day, Haseena resisted being tied up and getting raped. Her husband got angry and beat her and broke her tooth. When she revealed this incident to her family, Haseena was advised to get used with this kind of male aggressiveness. It was surprising that her own mother justified the violence telling that it should not be bothered if the husband is loving and affectionate. Later, one day she was again beaten and fractured her arm while fell down resisting the rape attempt. Her father noticed this and he understood the gravity of the situation and refused to send his daughter to her husband’s house. When she was admitted to the hospital, the doctors there prompted her to file a police complaint under the Domestic Violence Act.
65% of men and women in India think that husbands can beat their wives if necessary. According to the UNPF's Masculinity Intimate Partner Violence (2014) study, 93.6% of men and 91.1% of women believe that a wife should obey her husband. The same study shows that 74.6% of men and 65.1% of women believe that rape cannot be considered as rape unless women fight the men when they are getting raped.
In majority of the cases, women are financially dependent on their husbands. This, too, plays a large part in the perpetuation of torture for years. According to the NFHS survey, 40% of women who are economically disadvantaged face violence, compared to only 19% of women who are economically independent.
Study by Pandey
In his article “Domestic Violence against Women in Kerala” in the book Confronting Violence against Women, Pradeep Kumar Pandey says that Kerala women have not yet come into the family structure or social environment that challenge the male dominated society. Pandey's study is about the physical and mental violence in intimate relationships. This is one of the few authoritative studies on domestic violence in Kerala.
The book states that the celebrated Kerala development model have knowingly or unknowingly ignored the gender dimension and the patriarchal families and the increasing rapes take place there is a natural consequence.
In a survey conducted among the women with an age group of 15-49 in Thiruvananthapuram, 35.7 % have at least once experienced physical violence from their husbands. The study also found that 109 out of 179 women said they had been subjected to beating, kicking and torture by their partners on several occasions. 15% of women were subjected to forced sex.
It should be studied that 79% of the 179 women are still willing to continue living with their husbands despite the terrible physical abuses they have faced. 44% believe that violence in marriage is quiet normal. 94% women continue their relationship since they do not have any other choice. 29% of women continue the relationship for the sake of their children. 28 per cent refuse to break the relationship fearing their dignity and social status.
Tomorrow: Drugs and Pornography in the Bedroom