By: Anya Hassan
In its true essence, domestic violence is the gruesome act of violating fundamental rights of one’s partner/spouse – physically, emotionally, psychologically and even economically. It doesn’t sound very gruesome when you sugarcoat it like this, does it?
How about being a little more graphic and stating that domestic violence includes depriving your spouse of financial rights, refusing welfare for your own children, threatening to file a divorce, post postpartum body shaming or…bruises. The painfully infamous bruises make up for the best representation of a domestic violence case in our country because that is the only way we will ever believe that something is not right. Why? Why do we have to come down to seeing a person, mostly a woman, covered in bruises to believe that it’s actually happening?
That, it is probably happening in the house next to yours, or it is probably happening to one of your loved ones and the sad reality is that it could possibly happen to you. You have got to take the time out to understand what all comprises and encourages domestic violence. It is high time we take this societal nuisance seriously.
Notwithstanding physical violence makes up a huge part of what we understand as domestic violence, the other violations that have been mentioned should be equally included in the equation.We need to address and acknowledge the seemingly smaller problems before we jump down the Chief Justice’s throat trying to get justice for something we don’t fully understand.
We have to understand what domestic violence is and how we need not have proof in the form of bruises but also or only in the form of simple bank statements, and or pictures, whatever proves our point. Why do we have to suffer from a physical blow to label it ‘violence’?
As a nation, if we unanimously agree that littering the road leads to fatal diseases, will we ever so much as throw a piece of straw on the road? Not really. The problem stands as to how do we unanimously agree to this?
Likewise, if we agree, unanimously, that domestic violence is not only an offence when, for instance, a man physically hurts his wife, but also an offence when he body shames her for not looking the way she looked before childbirth OR for when he disbands her financial rights and that of a minor OR for when he deprives her of basic necessities when he can afford them. Unless we understand that gender roles are societal and unfortunately, our understandings of them are hugely historical, we will never fully understand domestic violence. If we agree and establish that something, anything, is wrong unconditionally, no ifs and buts, we have the potential to stop that nuisance because regardless of whether you are a man or a woman, the term ‘log kya kahengay’ is extremely influential in Pakistan, we are all a little afraid of it and therefore, we might as well use it to our advantage.