|HER WORLD||Sunday, February 8, 2004, Chandigarh, India|
Kashmir: Worst is not over
Women are suckers for punishment
Of new moms & mood swings
Kashmir: Worst is not over
AFTER grappling with the diktats of militants and suffering the trauma of living in an insurgency-ridden state, the women in Kashmir are now increasingly becoming victims of dowry harassment, domestic violence, rape and sexual harassment.
Crimes against women were on the increase throughout the insurgency years, particularly in the 1990s. But over the past three years, such violence has shot up dramatically, according to the state police. In 2001, 1,647 cases of crimes against women were registered while 1,999 cases were registered in 2002. By September 2003, the police had registered over 1,500 such cases. According to the State Social Welfare Department, the male-female sex ratio in the state is 1000:900.
Dowry harassment as a phenomenon, the Kashmiris (both Hindu and Muslim) claim, was not prevalent in their society until very recently. Dr Girja Dhar, former chairperson of the State Commission for Women (SCW), said in a recent interview to a national daily that it was for the first time that they were getting cases of bride burning.
Dhar says 80 per cent of the complaints from women to the SCW were related to family problems. She says the rise in consumerism has affected the psyche of conflict-torn families, who now seek more wealth through dowry.
Lawyer Surinder Kour adds that until 1988, the number of dowry complaints was negligible. Renowned Kashmir University sociologist Bashir Ahmed Dabla says that violence against women was nearly non-existent, both at the social and domestic level. But the picture has changed now.
Although dowry is demanded in both urban and rural families, the incidence of dowry-related deaths is higher in rural areas, and among poorer sections.
Women have become even more vulnerable because the state government has still not implemented the Dowry Prohibition Act (DPA), which it redrafted in 1960. According to legal experts, J&K is exempt from the coverage of certain laws as it occupies a special status under Article 370. But despite directives from Justice S.K. Gupta in 2002 to frame rules and implement the DPA, the state government has failed to take any steps in this direction. Lawyers are of the opinion that the DPA ensures that a legal mechanism is put in place.
Take the case of Satinder Kour, a lecturer who married an IPS officer seven years ago. Her husband and in-laws physically and mentally tortured her for dowry. "There were several legal complications since there was no mechanism to implement the DPA. Moreover, my husband was influential enough to hamper police investigations," she narrates.
Officials in the state’s Law Department admit that no rules for implementation of the DPA have been framed so far as it is the job of the Home Department. Desh Bhagat Samaj Sewa Sangathan, an NGO, has recently filed a public interest litigation demanding the speedy implementation of the DPA.
Equally disconcerting for women is the absence of family courts in the state. Seema Shekhar, consultative member of the SCW, says when the commission recently submitted the demand for establishing family courts, the state Law Secretary wrote back: "The government does not feel any necessity for such courts".
Surinder Kour observes that family courts will not only help to check the high rate of divorce in the state, but also help reduce the harassment women undergo while filing cases.
In the absence of family courts, the women have to file several cases in criminal courts even though they are all related to marital disputes. Criminal cases often do not result in any tangible benefits for the women themselves, because they are very often targeted at the punishment of the accused.
Kamala Devi, a young mother who was deserted by her husband, was forced to file four different cases though all her petitions related to the custody of her child, initiation of criminal proceedings for dowry demands and maintenance claims.
Noted psychiatrist Kuldip Koul observes that a majority of his female patients are victims of torture, dowry harassment and unhappy marriages.
Women who approach the courts undergo tremendous mental pressure. The lack of a conducive environment in courts, social stigma and lengthy litigation take a heavy toll on women. "Many of them admit they don’t feel comfortable because there is no privacy and security in courts; they are harassed by lawyers and court staff; and there are no female judges," he says. Most courts don’t even have separate toilets for women!
Women petitioners often withdraw their cases due to the excessive pressure they experience plus the high cost of litigation.
There has also been an increase in cases of rape and sexual harassment in the state. In this context, Dhar states that men who have failed in their "mission" take out their frustrations on women.
On the whole, rising crimes against women have been attributed to
several factors— the inability of men to cope with the pressures of
insurgency, behavioural aberrations caused due to migration, rise in the
consumerist culture and disruption in education of women. But the casual
approach of the state today is only deepening the crisis. WFS
Women are suckers for punishment
THERE are no two ways about it. Women choose to take the hard way out and make it a part of their lives... as if they didn’t have a choice in the matter. Or when they did have a choice, didn’t choose the rockier road. Maybe they were steered that way by tradition or by some role expectation or even by men. But more often than not, they take the harder road, usually to make life easier for someone else, and sometimes live to regret it and sometimes not. The choice, however, has been theirs to make.
Take any aspect of an urban, educated woman’s life. This so-called emancipated woman lives and breathes in a "free and enlightened" atmosphere. Take a look at the choices she makes for herself in a thing as simple as beauty treatment. If you want to take a peek at a torture chamber, step into a beauty parlour. It’s quite usual to see women being pushed an pummeled, pulled at and epiliated, being bruised by nail files, pumice stones and black-head removers, smarting under bleach on their faces and bodies, covered with face masks—uncomfortable, sticky things that dry up and stretch the skin unbearably. And if that’s not enough, hot wax is applied on the skin, with a knife, no less. Not to mention the treatment with mehendi—that green stuff applied to the hair, which must remain there for three to four hours and then be washed off, leaving the bathroom in the mother-of-all-messes.
These are just a few examples of how women choose to ‘beautify’ themselves. The irony of it is that they pay for this torture- and gladly! Why, after all, would they choose to do this? "Why?" says Sujata Kapur, a housewife, "Why`85? Just to look nice I guess and if everyone else is doing it`85I mean why not?"
Body consciousness is next on the list, perhaps related to beauty treatment. It doesn’t matter whether the woman is fat or thin. Almost all women want to be thin and whether or not they do anything about achieving the desired shape, it doesn’t stop them from agonising over the ‘perfect’ body. So, many will starve themselves or puff and grunt in aerobic classes, or go for long torturous walks on humid evenings when their husbands are sitting before TV, sipping iced nimbupani. It’s probably for this overweight couch potato that this woman is sweating it out and punishing herself. Slim, young Anju Saxena, who works out in a health club five times a week and hasn’t "eaten a parantha or puri in... may be four to five years" for fear of the gaining calories, admits that her husband looks far older than she does and has a paunch and gray hair to boot! "But he hates me putting on even an ounce" she grimaces. And so she’s made her choice.
Take jobs. A highly qualified woman will give up her highly paid job with glowing career prospects and settle for something, which doesn’t employ even half her potential. This choice is usually made because either she gets married or her husband gets posted out or changes his job or her kids need her. More often than not she won’t think twice before rejecting her space and salary and settling for something much inferior. Mansi Walia, an MBA, was employed with a leading newspaper in Delhi and earning a salary not to be sneezed at. She agreed to get married to an Army officer. " It was fun to float around in the beginning, I was busy playing homemaker. But after a while, it started to pall. I started chaffing and needed to do something but what can you do in the forsaken places you get posted to? So, finally I did my B.Ed and started teaching. Yes, sometimes I do wish I could go back to Delhi and restart my work there," she says wishfully.
Then there are women who will choose to stay on in bad, unsatisfying marriages because it just seems the easier way— social taboos, families, finances being the usual reasons that motivate them to make such choices. But there are some that make the choice to break out. "Who wants to be subjected to insult and indifference all the time?" asks Shikha Gupta. "It was hard but I made my choice—better to be without much money than carry on with someone you share nothing with any more." However, she’s probably one in 10,000 who make such a choice.
Important, of course, are parenthood choices. The woman will go through nine months of discomfort, pain, injections, poking and prodding by a gynaecologist. Then, the wailing, puking "bundle of joy" is born. This is followed by nights of sleeplessness, boiling bottles, washing nappies and worrying when the baby hasn’t done his "poo-poo". And when, finally, the baby grows up a bit and mama starts relaxing a bit and can start thinking of going back to work, what choice does she make?
Of new moms & mood swings
IT’S the happiest time for every woman when she first sees her child’s face. But it’s not the same for everyone. Instead of feeling blissful if you find yourself weepy, irritable and losing your sleep, if spending time with your baby makes you wince and, worse, you find yourself wishing you never had the child, don’t panic. It doesn’t signifies that you are a cruel mom. It is possible that you’re suffering from postpartum depression.
The days of morning sickness, the weight gain, and the hours of pain and labour have finally passed — and you’re now the proud mother of a beautiful baby. Loved ones and family have been surrounding you, feeling happy for you and offering their deepest congratulations and expressing joy at the sight of the newborn baby. So why are you feeling so miserable and overwhelmed?
Conceiving a baby can be one of the biggest and happiest episodes in a woman’s life. Waiting eagerly for nine months to see the face of the most prestigious gift bestowed upon you is a wonderful experience. Although life with a new baby is exciting and rewarding, at the same time it can also be rigid and stressful at times.
When a woman is pregnant and gives birth to the love of her life she undergoes numerous physical and emotional changes. These changes at times can leave new mothers with mixed feelings of sadness, anxiety, fear or confusion. They get mentally disturbed. Most of the females get rid of these feelings, commonly know as baby blues, very soon. Only when these feelings keep lingering for a long time the situation gets worse and a woman may have postpartum depression. This is a serious condition that requires quick treatment from a healthcare provider.
Postpartum depression (PPD), commonly known as
postpartum blues, is a major depressive order that occurs usually after
delivery. It is a condition which describes a range of physical and
emotional events that many mothers experience after having a baby. PPD
is treated with medication and counselling and shouldn’t be ignored as
it may effect the well-being of the baby and the mother. As many as 70
per cent of woman suffer from baby blues, which usually last for a few
days or at the most two weeks. But in 10-15 per cent women, it may last
for more than two weeks. Talk to your doctor and take immediate help if
you think you are suffering from PPD. There are mainly three types of PPD that women can have after the
delivery: Baby Blues
Postpartum depression (PPD) happens a few days or even months after childbirth. A woman may suffer from PPD after the birth of any child, not just the first born. She can have feelings similar to baby blues—sadness, despair, anxiety, irritability—but these are much more intense than baby blues. PPD often interferes with the regular chores or work that woman tends do every day. When a woman’s ability to function is affected, this is a sure sign that she needs to see the doctor right away. If a woman does not get treated for PPD, the symptoms might get worse and last for as long as a year. While PPD is a serious condition, it can be treated with medication and counselling.
Postpartum psychosis is a very serious type of PPD illness that can affect new mothers. It affects the mental well-being of women. This mental illness can happen quickly, often within the first three months of childbirth. Women suffering from postpartum psychosis lose touch with reality and often have auditory hallucinations (hearing things that aren’t actually happening, like a person talking) and delusions (seeing things differently from what they are). Visual hallucinations (seeing things that aren’t there) are less common. They may suffer from insomnia, agitation and anger that is accompanied by strange feelings and behaviour. Women who have postpartum psychosis need treatment right away and almost always need medication. Sometimes women are put into the hospital because they are at risk for hurting themselves or someone else.
Prevention & cure
It is very essential to prevent these depressive moods beforehand by taking a proactive approach. Practising yoga daily, exercising and going for walks during pregnancy helps to avoid PPD. A proper diet also plays an important part. Eat a balanced diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Fish, walnuts and dark green leafy vegetables like spinach are rich sources of these fatty acids. Women who are depressed or upset during pregnancy and receive psychotherapy are likely to suffer from postpartum blues.
Where treatment is concerned, psychotherapy is effective. Taking
anti-depressants prescribed by a doctor along with the therapy provides
quick relief. But special care should be taken, as anti-depressants are
taken in by the babies through the mother’s milk and may affect their
health. Women with PPD are often advised to attend a support group and
talk to other women who are going through the same thing. LMN
WHO cares how men feel or what they do or whether they suffer? They’ve had over 2000 years to dominate and made a complete mess of it. Now it’s our turn. The only thing I want to say to men is if you don’t like it, bad luck and if you get in my way I’ll run you down.
Since time immemorial they’ve donned the demi-god image, forcing us into tacit submission. We unquestioningly bow to thyself and ‘Hail to the Lord’ feeding their already inflated egos. Until one day when our reservoirs of patience run out and we examine the wisdom in the sentiment: Pati parmeshwar hai.
As a matter of fact, this tribe of pati is as old and primitive as Adam himself. When Adam went to God asking for a companion, God asked him: "What would this companion be like?" Adam replied, thoughtfully yet confidently: "This person will gather food for me, cook for me and when I discover clothing, wash it for me. She will always agree with everything I say. She will bear my children and never ask me to get up in the middle of the night to take care of them. She will not nag me and will always be the first to admit she was wrong when we have a disagreement. She will never have a headache and will freely give me love and passion." God smiled a knowing smile and said, "Son, why didn’t you simply ask for an attendant! (only that the attendant must be a 36-26-36)."
Well, your mate might not be Adam but a CEO in a MNC. Nevertheless at home he is incompetence at its worst. He stands in the light of a gaping refrigerator yelling because he can’t find the mustard that is right in front of his nose. Ask him to put junior to bed and chances are he’ll have dozed off while the poor thing is still gaping wide-eyed. Ask him to pick up the child from school and... we all saw the Nestle ad. Thanks to chocolates, he can bribe the little imp so that mommy won’t roar because daddy forgot yet again. So much so that we’ve lost count of the number of times we were repeating the phrase: "A typical man."
It’s New Year’s Eve and he comes home expecting a grand feast while you think to yourself, "Just like a man won’t help a bit but will be happy to eat all the goodies." Yet, you have a lot to thank for if you are spared his long drawl of "how my mother cooks..."
A wise man, pardon me, a wise woman once said, "How many roads must a man travel before he admits he is lost?" They might be slobbering goofballs, but they expect you to work with the precision and diligence of a robot. It is little wonder then, "Behind every successful man is a woman and behind every successful woman... is a basket of dirty laundry."
Indeed and that’s all you are deemed good for. Ask him something that intrigues you about him and the answer you are most likely to get is, "It’s a guy’s thing!" Really means... that there is no rational thought pattern connected to it, and you have no chance at all of making it logical.
And our young dames wearing rose-coloured sunglasses — watch out. Your boyfriend might look like the Newage Man who sports a forward outlook and vouches for feminist causes on the uniform civil code but in his own small world he is the same... male chauvinist pig.
He can’t stop ogling at the ooh-so-hot legs of that chic unmindful of your presence next to him but tell him that you exchanged a cup of coffee with an old friend you ran into and watch him fret and fume. Once you have sworn allegiance to him, it is but implied that you shut out all the men from your life, even of the status of friends. An act as innocent as smiling is also considered a breach of his trust. Like The Duke of Ferrara in Robert Browning’s masterpiece My Last Duchess. Epitomising the brutality of the XY chromosome is the Duke who gave orders to murder his own sweetheart. Little did the Duchess with a childish heart that was pleased too easily by trifles such as a beautiful sunset; realise that it offended the Duke. She smiled at everybody without distinction and then one day... All smiles stopped together.
At the core, he’s a very insecure species. Talk about financial independence and rubbing shoulders with him and he feels threatened! At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how many degrees you hold but how enticing your vital stats are lest you be discarded like an old rag doll. So what if ‘he’ doesn’t shave in days and looks like a ragamuffin ? He’s a man.
He’s also a lion in a sheep’s skin.! You are on cloud nine when he tells you, you mean the world to him but you feel like hitting the roof when you see him still tied to his mama’s apronstrings. Come marriage and there is going to be a protocol on whom you see, what you wear, where you go and even what you think. If you are thinking why is it always ‘you’ who is expected to understand while his word is law, you have the answer even before you ask... It’s a man’s world.