Did you read about the one where a father told the investigating team that he knew his daughter had got a ruptured eardrum a couple of months back from her husband hitting her, but he thought it was just *normal* fighting between couples and so ignored it? Have you read about the father who was called on phone by her daughter, begging for help, but the phone was snatched from her hands by his son-in-law and he heard her screaming in pain in the background, but did nothing because well, couples fight, what can you do? Now, do you know what is common between these two fathers, apart from the fact that they were educated, well off and stalwarts of society? Both their daughters were dead within days after these incidents. (By mentioning only fathers, I am not saying mothers are ‘innocent’. They are most definitely not)
Can you imagine things happening the other way round? The wife beating up the husband, and the husband’s parents taking it quietly, waiting it out in the next room, because well, it is ‘normal’ for couples to fight you know, what can one do? It doesn’t happen that way, because, well.. duh, SONS! Everyone knows that if the woman so much as whispered a word against their son, they’d be by his side sticking up for him and knives into her. But parents of daughters? They avert their eyes, turn their head and pretend to be deaf when their daughter is pummeled to pulp, screams for help. She must have done something wrong for him to hit her. Good Lord, it is the husband’s RIGHT to hit his wife, thinks the father remembering the times he has hit his own wife. A slap here and a loose tooth there, it is all part of marriage. Not a big deal. Anyway who can fight Fate? And it’s her life. She has to solve her problems and make it work. Don’t ask us how. It is all up to.. er.. Fate.
I’d have had a teeny-weeny bit of respect for parents of daughters if they had told her ‘It’s your life’ and let her live it on her own terms right from the word go. But no. They make decisions for her and she is ‘married off’ to someone they have chosen or at least vetted as suitable, and once that is done, it is as if they have washed their hands of her. They call whatever happens to her as the doings of ‘Fate’. Yeah, right. It is ‘fate’ that you arrange her marriage and give all what you have scrimped and saved – not to her to make a life, oh, Heaven forbid! – but to the son-in-law’s family, almost as if bribing them to please take her off your hands. Having done that, how much easier to blame Fate and absolve oneself of guilt.
This brings me to the question, how can parents treat children differently? It is not as if daughters are disposable items they found in the market. Sons and daughters are both children born to parents. And yet ..apparently, daughters are their children only till the time as a man takes them off their hands whereas sons remain raja beta’s all their life. What kind of deal is this? Oh, please don’t try and tell me parents love their children equally. No. They. Don’t. No one who sits quietly while their daughter is being hit in the in front of their eyes or stays put while hearing her scream from three thousand miles away, is treating her equally. Will they say ‘it’s normal couple fight’ and put the phone down to calmly go about their lives if their son called them for help? Oh, I forgot, the son is supposed to be STILL living with his parents. Isn’t it only the woman who is pushed out of her home and encouraged to never ever return?!
How come when the school-going daughter is hit by another girl in the playground, parents go running to fight for her? What changes when she is an adult and ‘given off’ in marriage that they don’t care anymore who assaults her or how badly? If the adult son were being attacked by a goon with a knife, they’d rush to his help putting themselves in danger, won’t they? Come to think of it, they’d probably do that for the daughter too if she were being attacked by a stranger. BUT when it is the husband beating her up, they wait patiently for…. what? For the dead body to turn up so they can cry over it and blame Fate and still come out of the whole thing with their honor intact?
You know when things will start changing? When parents of daughters will stand no nonsense. When they make it clear that their daughters have their support always, just like their sons. But for that to happen they have to first grow out of this servile, apologetic attitude as parents of girl children. All that rot they show in Bollywood movies, the woman’s father begging with his turban in hand, for the wedding to go through, to not shame them in front of everyone. What bleddy shame? Because some jerk refuses to marry their daughter why the heck should he or his family be ashamed? Good riddance, should be the response, because the true colors of the groom and his family have been revealed early enough. If the parasite doesn’t want your daughter, how about saying with pride, that YOU as parents want her, that he and his family can go back to whichever hellhole they crawled out of? Besides, why would you want to send your daughter to that hellhole?!! Oh, I forgot, you don’t care for her. Why else would you beg them to take her?
I know many of you will blame it all on society. Right. And society is made up of…who? Aliens from outer space? It is you, me and other humans like us. It is up to us. Shift the focus from man and his parents, the all powerful in-laws. When you as the parents of a daughter don’t respect or support your own child, why/how do you expect a strange family to do it? But who am I kidding. How many actually think that women are humans at par with men? Not even women, or definitely not her parents. So changes may not be happening any time too soon. But can we take that first step please?
Now to the disclaimer. Not all parents of daughters. Duh! Do I even have to say it? The rare, extremely rare, exceptions are nowhere near the rule. So, guess what, I won’t.
© Shail Mohan 2020