Years ago…


Pradnya Jadhav

pradnya-jadhavYears ago, she had a dream of attending school, completing graduation, getting a job and settling down. But yes, it was just a dream. The reality was all different, her parents arranged her marriage, and she lived with her husband for almost three years, by now she had two babies. So she thought she would raise her children, educate them and make their life better. It was never that easy though, one day she saw her husband entering home with another woman. Yes, her husband had got married to another woman and asked her to leave his home with her two children. Later, the caste panchayat approved their divorce, and then she started staying with her parents. One day, her parents came to her with another man, and told her that they are going to get her married to him. He was almost 20 years older than her, was a widower and had a son from his previous wife. She never wanted to remarry but couldn't help herself, and got married to him. Now everything was going somehow well for her and in a year she gave birth to a baby girl...

The baby was now nine months old, it was late midnight and she found that her daughter – her only world – was not beside her on the bed. She started searching for the baby... screaming out, weeping, but her daughter was not there. After an hour, her husband and step-son came home along with the baby, told her that they had taken the baby along with them when they went out. She was surprised, shocked to see her baby didn't move, didn't cry, and didn't open her eyes... The baby was covered in a cloth, she took it off and found that the baby had cuts on her body, her vagina... She was almost going to faint thinking about what must have had happened to her daughter. Yes, she realised her husband gave her sleeping tablets so that he could take the baby away while she was asleep and rape her, her husband and step-son had raped the nine month old baby.

She somehow managed to go the hospital, but no doctor treated the baby. So she ran towards the police station but no one believed her, saying how can a father and brother rape a toddler, their own daughter and sister. They cursed her saying she must be responsible for her baby's condition, they said she must have sold her baby to someone to buy liquor for herself and was now making up the story... They cursed her for her identity as a woman from a particular community.

Finally, when she realised that the baby was no more, she didn't cry. Next morning her husband surrendered himself to the police, revealing the truth. His son still remained untraced.

She lost her control, anticipating that the caste panchayat would handle this issue in the same manner as the Police did, that she would be held responsible for her daughter's death and only she would be punished, boycotted.

She was only muttering, she should have thrown her daughter into a well, so that her daughter could have gone with less pain.

When she herself was taken to an asylum, she didn't allow any doctor to treat her, and later on consumed poison and ended her life.

All her dreams were dashed, she couldn't think of living with a man who was her husband and rapist of their own daughter, raise an adolescent boy who was her step-son and also a rapist of her daughter.

She had seen this happening with her mother, sister, and women folk around her since her childhood. She had seen, experienced this intra-community patriarchal oppression for years. This violence was more immediate, stark, serious and heinous than the violence of outsiders as it impacts internal support structures too. Such brutality was her life. She was safe, secure nowhere, nor was her baby. As she also thought of killing her own baby to prevent her from this fate, she could think only of an act of infanticide... and the baby's father and brother become the murderers.

Finally, she chose a way out by ending her life... no one knows what must have been on her mind while thinking about her baby. After her death, was she relieved? Was she freed from what her mother had to go through? Was this a way to get justice for both of them?

Would they be resting in peace??

This is not a tale, it is in fact a real incidence I witnessed a couple of weeks ago. An incidence I was involved in as a Social Worker* (The word which I hate the most)

I was thinking for a long time on how I should write about it. While engaging in this process, to me, each effort opened a new array of exploitation, a range of multilayered complexities to which our women are subjected to. The challenge of broaching this complexity.... I was grappling with myself to bring this into a document. The reasons are I never wanted to present this as a mere incidence. Her story is an individual's story which also represents many such lives, processes. The tragedies of many of our mothers, sisters who go through this physical, mental, sexual violence every day from their families. These are silenced topics, hardly confronted, addressed.

Keeping in view the seriousness of the matter I've not added any names of persons, places or any other such details.



Pradnya Jadhav says:

I'm a free-lance researcher, working with Dalit and NT/DNT women in Aurangabad. My interests are reading, writing and reflecting.


This article is also published on SAVARI

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