By: Zahrah Nasir
Carrying the figurative ‘can’ for all that can possibly go wrong on the home front has long been the way it is for women all over the world and, in some respects, Asian women get the very worst of what is an undefendably bad deal.
Women are blamed for boring or downright bad meals when the male has not provided enough cash to purchase decent ingredients or, in worst case scenarios, no cash at all; they are blamed for badly behaved children irrespective of the fact that offspring are a joint responsibility; blamed for children dropping out of school if, that is, they even have a chance to go but, above all, blamed all the way down the line when a marriage falls apart at the seams quite irrespective of the reasons for this happening.
Unlike many, certainly not all, of their ‘sister’s’ in the Western world, Asian women rarely have recourse to any form of backup when a marriage fails and battered women can do nothing more than seek medical attention providing that they are financially able to do so and, as if mostly the case, if they can’t they have no option but to depend on the assistance of family and friends who, depending on the perpetrators status, may not be willing to offer even this, as they do not want to be his next victim. Society, global society, habitually frowns and looks down on women who have been subjected to marital violence in any form, conveniently overlooking that such violence, whatever the cause, is a truly horrific crime and that the victim desperately needs both physical and psychological help and that, as always and no matter how unthinkable…….”There but for the grace of Allah, go I.”
Physical violence against women is, reportedly, far more common than most people believe and knows no social strata, the wealthy being just as subject to it as the poor but, even more common are the unrecorded, unreported, incidences of mental torture that, as they are largely ‘invisible’ and almost always unreported, actually do more long-term damage to both physical and mental health than the visible manifestations of brute force so many unfortunate women endure. A woman who complains, perhaps, having taken years to pluck up enough courage to do so, that her husband habitually subjects her to mental torture tends to be laughed at by friends and talked down to be immediate relatives, especially if these relatives are on the husbands side of the fence, being told to pull herself together, deal with the situation or simply forget it which, as it often turns out, is neither easy nor possible.
Such invisible abuse, it takes on countless shapes and forms, can scar a woman more seriously and more lasting than black eyes and broken ribs as, over time and depending on how mentally strong the woman is in the first place, she can be brought to her knees under an unrelenting stream of verbal abuse that, eventually, completely destroys her mind, her well being, her ability to function and even her ability to interact with other people let alone with the world at large. She can become so utterly demoralised that she isn’t even aware of the extreme pressures and perpetually torment which have made her this way and, while some may consider such an event as being merciful, it is most certainly not the way it should be. If, after undergoing years of destructive mental torture, a woman does find the courage to stand up and walk out of what is a viciously dangerous situation, then she is liable to be scorned by those, family and friends in the forefront, whose support and understanding she so desperately needs at this critical point. She is also highly unlikely to have any safe place to go which results, unfortunately and in most instances, in her having no option but to crawl back to the torturer’s cell from which she had summoned up the guts to escape.
Another shocking side to such a dire situation occurs when a husband decides to divorce a wife he has mentally degraded for months or years: A divorced women is anathema in the Asian society and not all that much better off in the so-called ‘developed’ world where she is often regarded by the male of the species as ‘fair game’. Unthinking, this does not necessarily mean uneducated, society, tends to view divorced women as predatory creatures who are eternally on the hunt for men when, if the truth be told, most of them have already had far more than they can possibly take of the opposite sex. They simply want, and need, to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives as best they can under adverse circumstances yet are continually subject to the ill will of those who should support them the most. When children and property are also involved in divorce proceedings, then the woman is subject to even more untold misery than she may have endured during the time she was trapped in a bad marriage and, let’s face it, this is dreadfully wrong.
With divorce, for whatever reason, becoming more common in this part of the world than it once was, it is time that the society accepted and supported, rather than rejected and judged, the victims of marital ‘crime’ and move towards offering them the succour they so desperately need if they are to be functional members of the human race to which, irrespective of rights and wrongs, they are suffering members of.
Source: The Nation