4 Most Common Impacts of Domestic Violence on Mental Health

Domestic abuse, also known as spousal abuse, occurs when one person in an intimate relationship or marriage tries to dominate and control the other person. Domestic abuse that includes physical violence is called domestic violence.

Domestic violence and abuse are used for one purpose and one purpose only: to gain and maintain total control over you. An abuser doesn’t “play fair.” Abusers use fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation to wear you down and keep you under his or her thumb. Your abuser may also threaten you, hurt you, or hurt those around you.

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How privileged is it to be a woman?

Recently an old school friend of mine reacted to a status I shared on my Facebook account regarding feminism. He claimed that women use the feminist agenda to ‘get away with things’.

In his words “all men are crazy for women and so women can make them dance to their tunes as and when they please”.

I have seen the debate on male/female privilege on many online forums and this is not another checklist for a feminist or anti-feminist to prove a point for or against the notion of privilege. It is about sharing the privilege for a better world.

Each gender might think that about the opposite one and feel sorry for themselves as to how difficult it is to be them. You can read a whole list and counter points of argument here, here and here.

To me, it is ridiculous to argue which one is better than the other. I believe that every human being has qualities and talents which help them grow as a person and live a happy life. Depending on the gender to ‘get by’ life is a very narrow, shallow and constrained way of thinking. Similarly, all human beings face challenges in life too.

It is a superficial view to think that men may dance to the tunes of women in return of sexual pleasures, but isn’t this view itself highly offending? Let us assume it is true for a moment. What does that translate to? That women are objects of sexual desire and if a woman does not have sex to offer, she cannot have a loving man in her life? Or if she keeps offering sexual pleasures, the man would do anything she instructs- like the man is some kind of a dog? Isn’t that offending to men?

Men dislike when women demand their rights because according to my friend, women rule the world and use the ‘I am a woman card’ to get favors and privileges. I can’t think of what context people might use such tricks but as far as I see it, women were not given the right to vote, they had to fight for it, many died protesting. So the right to vote (for women) is not a privilege but something they had to fight for and it is finally a right they enjoy as much as men do but only after fighting for it unlike men.

It is a ridiculous notion for me to compare and contrast which gender has it easy because human life faces different challenges in different stages of life. And if it really comes down to who has it easy, people from Asia might claim that Americans are privileged people, their life is easy, they have a green card/a passport that gives their life more value than that of others. Americans might claim that Europeans have it easy because they live in a more peaceful way.

There will always be advantages and disadvantages in being one gender, religion, nationality, race or another etc. My question is:

 1. Why don’t we differentiate between privileges and human rights?

In a country like India where men spend only 19 minutes a day on average doing household chores while the women spend 298 minutes, I don’t think that a cup of coffee or a weekend trip to the restaurant is too much of a privilege. Speaking strictly of human rights, it is non-negotiable for every human being to feel safe, respected and dignified. If a man is polite to a woman because he thinks she might sleep with him, this throws light on the male entitlement issue. She doesn’t owe you anything just because you paid for the meal or gifted her car. No one owes you sex because that is not a male’s right.

What we need is a world where we are seen and treated as human beings not just as one gender that offer us something in return for being polite.

2. Why don’t we combine our privileges and share our pains, together?

Imagine a couple. The man has male privileges and so does the woman, according to the privilege believing people. How about both genders sharing what comes as advantages to them while helping each other out in pain?

To be honest when we begin to treat one another as equals and share what we have, life would be much better. The misogynists and feminist haters claim that women push the feminist agenda to gain attention but there wouldn’t be feminism if women were not oppressed. As long as there is one chauvinist, pervert or misogynist in this world, there will be feminists.

All this privilege argument comes from a narrow point of view of inequality. It does not matter how the society works, what matters is what you think, how you perceive it. If you dance to the tunes of a woman because you think she might offer you sexual pleasure in return then that shows how lame and little you think of yourself. On the other hand, if you are nice to a woman because you love her, then there is no gender argument here.

Any woman or man who is in love would do everything they can do to please and show their love. Love is in fact equality because it sees beyond gender. And both women and men sometimes cheat or take advantage of their partners love. They are bad people regardless of their gender.

The world needs sharing and caring, let us all feel privileged to be human beings. But no matter what gender you are, you don’t have the right to oppress others. If you feel that the opposite gender is privileged, go ahead, feel that way. But do not deny them their rights when you are in power. Instead of seeing others as privileged people, try to look out for the oppressed ones.

I can bet you will find all genders and children from different parts of the world in the oppressed category. For instance, let’s talk about the victims of human trafficking. Men, women and children are forced to work in horrendous situations. I don’t think we have the right to trivialize one group and feel sorry for the other because of their gender. When one man dies (who was working as a slave), his entire family suffers, doesn’t it?

Looking past gender privilege and towards the oppressed is a better way of reaching out to those who need help. Sadly, women and children are in majority and when you see others fighting for these two oppressed groups, please don’t see it as a privilege of being a woman or a child.

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5 Things That Shock Me About Priety Zinta’s Complaint Against Ness Wadia

Priety Zinta, a famous Bollywood actress and entreprenuer recently filed a complaint against her ex boyfriend of 10 years at Mumbai Police Station. As one can imagine, the news spread like wildfire. When such issues come up in the mainstream media however, shocking reactions emerge. What shocks me about this case are 5 things:

1. Title- Love Gone Wrong on #ZEE NEWS
Zee News recently broadcasted a show titled ‘Love Gone Wrong’ where the media debated with a few panelists about it. Although the intent of the media seemed unskeptical, the way they handled it was ignorant and wrong on so many levels. As an author and researcher on violence against women, I see the title of the show as derogatory. Why couldnt they just say- Bollywood actress complains against such and such person… They said they tried to be sensitive to her feelings but if you see the the images, the music, the headings, subtitles, it is clear that it is catered more for the purpose of entertainment and gossip into a celebritys life. If you disagree with me, just think about this…

What if your relationship ended and it was publically discussed among people who you dont even know, passing their judgment on you? 

Would you even be able to bear if your private life was discussed in public like this? Actresses are professionals who entertain people but they are NOT public properties. Why dont people learn to draw boundaries? The news reporter said that she had been waiting at the gates of the actresses home all day but Priety did not come out and only tweeted that please do not make a soap out of my misery. Isnt that enough message that she needs privacy?

2. No Mention of Domesic Abuse
Another schoking fact is that NO ONE mentioned her complaints as domestic violence or abuse. She clearly said that this had been happening since a long time. For those of you who do not know,

a victim of domestic violence takes somewhere between 7 to 15 attempts to finally break up with her abuser. 

What Priety describes of Ness in her complaint is plain verbal, psychological and physical abuse if not sexual as Abha Singh debated. Since they had already broken up, his abuse could fall into the category of stalking but because they still kept seeing each other for professionals reasons, this is not stalking but domestic abuse.

Shockingly, none of the people on the panel recognized it as such. Ignorance isn’t such a bliss.

3. Actress Needs Attention
It is shameful for Indians to even say such a thing. As an actress, she has more to loose than the reputation of an ordinary woman. But instead of her status, lets focus on the fact that when a woman from a poor household, uneducated family makes a complaint, she is disregarded by our so called patriarchal society for petty reasons like she isnt worth it, this is her life, deal with it. When an educated women from a high profile background makes such complaint, people say she seeks attention.
The oddly funny and ugly thing is

Indian society always finds an excuse to blame the woman. So much for VICTIM BLAMING.

4. Diplomatic answers from Bollywood
Rakhi Sawant may be hated in India for being a loud mouthed woman and her quirks but at least she had the guts to stand by Priety Zinta out of sheer faith. Rani Mukherjee and several other actors and actresses gave awfully diplomatic answers when the media questioned them about their opinions. Specifically Rani Mukherjee, who has been a co star of Priety’s gave such a nonsensical reply. She was promoting her recently released film Mardani- which she claims is about “women empowerment”. Please read how ignorant this movie and Rani Mukherjee herself are here.

But keeping the movie aside, this was a platform to stand in solidarity with a woman in real life, her fellow, her mate and she simply skipped over it saying this platform is for my movie only. WTF seriously. She did not even recognize Priety as a friend, instead merely as a colleague and a ‘decent person’. Arent you promoting the rights of women? Or the naked truth is that you are ONLY promoting your movie and the reality does not bother you at all because Ness Wadia is a powerful man and you are scared may be…

Family, friends and fans can support the survivor without revictimization by simply not invading their privacy and saying we are with you. How difficult is that?

5. Ignorance on Trauma and Secondary Victimization of Victim
It seems like no one at all, from top to bottom has any concern for secondary victimization of the complainant. This is a case of psychological trauma where a woman has been abused and subjected to humiliation. But people do not seem to recognize that asking her story again and again or constantly quoting her FIR statements on the media accounts to prolong her trauma.

From the media, to the actors, institutes, politicians and community, India is a loooooooooonnnggg way to learn about violence against women which currently seem to be limited to candel light vigils and media entertainment.

Stay Safe, Stay Blessed,
XOXOX

PS
Love and Hugs to Priety, thats all you need lady!

#zeenews
#prietyzinta
#ranimukherjee
#rakhisawant
#india
#bbc
#upworthy
#TOI

Why do Indians Continue to Reinforce Ignorant Messages About Feminism and Gender Based Violence?

Feminism gone wrong

Recently a Bollywood film called ‘Mardaani’ was released starring the famous actress Rani Mukherjee. The movie is kind of inspired by the famous Hollywood movie ‘Taken’ starring Liam Neeson but with a female Police inspector. For instance, Liam Neeson shoots one bad guy in the end and says “it was all personal to me” that has been changed to “every war is personal” in this movie.

Official_Poster_of_Mardaani

The film itself may be great for pure entertainment but since it has been promoted in the name of ‘raising awareness’ about human trafficking and inspiring girls to be ‘mardaani’ which means MANLY in English, it is a classic example of feminism gone wrong.

As a feminist and an author in gender based violence prevention, I am outraged with the widespread ignorance of the director, writers, actors and the media that is promoting the movie. Recently, the actress, two activists and a Police Commissioner were on a show called The NDTV Dialogues – The Business of Human Trafficking where they further discussed it and promoted other myths about rape prevention and feminism. Here are a few pointers:

  1. The title of the film Mardaani

Activist Ruchira Gupta pointed out the title of the movie in the very beginning and Rani defended it in a very lame and vague manner quoting ‘khoob ladi mardani wo to Jhansi waali rani thi’; a quote that was written in the honor of the Queen of Jhansi who was a leading warrior in the Indian Rebellion of 1857. In English it means, the queen who fought like a man was the queen of Jhansi.

The poet who wrote these lines considered the word mardani (meaning manly or like men) appropriate in 1857 because it was the age when women did not vote, barely worked outside homes, certainly were not self reliant and had no rights. It was brave of a woman in 1857 to go to war alongside male companions hence the comparison makes sense in 1857.

In the 21st century however, promoting a message to women that to survive in this world, you’ve to be manly is absolutely ridiculous.

To put it in the words of Allison Pearson

“Trying to be a man is a waste of a woman.”

But this goes beyond just the ridiculous title.

Promoting messages like this reinforces the misconceptions about masculinity and femininity in the society. These are the specific myths we are trying to fight against to teach healthy and positive gender images in the minds of young men and women. Teaching women to enjoy womanhood the way they like without feeling guilty and ensuring men break their so called gender box of masculinity and breathe free like a human being.

In the Western world we are fighting the ‘you throw like a girl’ mentality and what Rani mentioned about the title is exactly the opposite of that.

Im-very-definitely-a-woman-and-I-enjoy-it.Marilyn-Monroe-quotes

  1. The emphasis on Martial Arts as a method to prevent rape

Few times Rani mukherjee mentioned about her ‘research’ and encouraged women and men to take up martial arts to prevent rape. She goes as far as making it mandatory at schools for children since the age of 3 to learn how to kick and punch.

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I can understand that she did some kicking and punching in the movie and the adrenaline rush in her veins is excited about it but sorry, Rani is wrong again.

I do not have a problem with learning any form of self defense. But mentioning self defense in the context of rape reinforces ‘victim blaming’.

It creates the false notion that if you know how to kick and punch, you can escape rape. Let me ask you a few questions:

What if the rapist has a gun or a knife?

What if the victim is a baby or a 70 year old woman?

What if the victim is physically challenged or mentally ill?

What if the victim is a dead body lying peacefully in her grave?

(I am asking these questions because this is the reality of rape)

In no case, anyone must blame the victim or make her feel that “aw poor you, only if you took those self defense classes I recommended when you were in high school. But don’t worry, now that you have been raped, you know better”.

This is a way of placing the responsibility to prevent rape on the victim instead of the rapist.

Research also suggests that one of the biggest myths about rape is that the rapist is a strange nasty man who comes in the dark and does his nasty and disappears in the night.

Acquaintance, date, and spousal rape is dramatically more prevalent than stranger rape. In a study published by the Department of Justice, 82% of the victims were raped by someone they knew. The Department of Justice also found that among victims 18 to 29 years old, two-thirds had a prior relationship with the rapist. 

These women are manipulated into love, promise and abused later. Where is the chance to kick and punch as Rani suggests? A ton of researchers also point out the impact of trauma on the human brain- the fight, flight or freeze response. Which means; no matter how much you practice kicking and punching, you may or may not have the same reaction towards a rapist when attacked. There is a whole lecture that I can offer you on the neurobiological impacts of trauma on the brain but for now you need to know that self defense is NOT the main tool to prevent rape. And also, all people have different reactions to trauma and attack.

  1. Being powerful can prevent rape and sexism

This also brings me to another myth about power and self defense. Men are supposedly more powerful than women, right? Yet men get raped too. Rarely do they report it because of the social stigma attached to it and our so called glamour of masculinity that convinces men to believe that they are not manly if they have been raped.

Excluding men from the category of rape victims is sexist and ignorant.

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Please stop seeing and propagating rape issue as ‘men vs women’ issue. The reality is that rape and human trafficking impact both genders, although not equally. But as long as the community of men in general is attacked in the media, of course men will defend themselves and a wall between men and women is created.It is NOT about power. If you don’t believe me, go to any social media platform and read the comments underneath any political figure’s sexist remark.

It instantly becomes a gender war. It does not have to be like that. Women and men have to be friends, be allies in the war against gender based violence and only then these weeds can be uprooted.

  1. Failure to differentiate between voluntary sex work and human trafficking

Whenever there is a discussion on human trafficking, the subject of voluntary prostitution always comes up and it is crucial for every individual to know that there is a difference between the two.

Yes, there is a group of women who prefer to work as a sex worker out of their own free choice. The subject is highly debatable and there have been very strong debates around the world on it. You are entitled to your opinion and follow it with pride but making others uncomfortable about their choices isn’t right.

Law

India is a country where prostitution is legal yet sex workers are treated like criminals.

The most recent case was the arrest of Shweta Basu Prasad, a young former actress who was arrested for prostitution. Why would a prostitute be arrested in a country where sex trade is legal? You can read the BS here about her case.

During the roundtable on the NDTV show, there was no mention of these voluntary sex workers and Rani even loudly defended that no woman wants to be in the sex trade. Clearly, another display of ignorance.

There are unions of sex workers in Karnataka and other states and the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee is a collectivization of 65,000 of them.

The police, the law and Indian citizens that make up the society of India have acute double standards towards sex work due to orthodox religious and cultural norms. Probably this is why no one mentioned it in the talk.

Whether or not prostitution must be sold as a commodity is NOT the question here. When India legalized prostitution, this was already decided, so it is said and done. The issue to talk about is the criminalization of prostitutes and victims of human trafficking alike when neither is guilty.

If a country’s constitution guarantees the rights while the society and law officials fail to provide those rights, it is either ignorance or plain hypocrisy.

This roundtable was a good platform to discuss and differentiate between the two and encourage society to respect sex workers and accept them and inform practitioners and the society about it.

hypocrite

  1. Lopsided view of Human Trafficking

The title keyword of the movie promotion and the show was human trafficking. In reality, Human trafficking is when a person is forced, coerced, or manipulated to work against their will. This work includes anything from domestic servitude to sex trade and everything in between. The victims of human trafficking are young children, boys and girls as well as men and women.

Yet, when human trafficking is discussed in the media, sexual exploitation takes over. Specifically in movies (Umrao Jaan, Chameli, Chandni Bar, Mardaani) the emphasis is only on sex trade. Why? Simply because “sex sells”.

There are a huge number of people involved in the organ trade and migrant work. Hundreds if not thousands of migrant workers travel from India and Nepal (and other countries) to the Middle East in hopes of a better life but return home in coffins. But who would watch a movie with twenty dark skinned poor laborers packed in a tiny 5 by 5 dorm?

A migrant workers' labour camp, Qatar.

Just watch the trailer of the movie Mardaani and all you’ll see is nudity and a strong character oriented police officer (like millions of other movies). There is no raising awareness as Rani claimed in the round table because if it was, at least in the interview they would have discussed other forms of modern day slavery extensively.

This view is also sexist because it favors or rather sees only children and females as victims. I am a woman and all for women’s rights but I am a human first and from how I see it; human trafficking affects both genders and we must raise awareness and support to help both, not just the females. Doesn’t feminism protect men’s rights as well?

The movie reminded me much of Taken but Taken was way better because it was NOT promoted as a movie on human trafficking but rather as an experience of an extra ordinary cop and a father. There is a reason why documentaries and other movies don’t fall under the same category.

Conclusion

There are several other ways in which the roundtable and the movie could have been a highly rewarding and informational platform to shine the light on human trafficking yet it was nothing but an emotional outburst or a film promotion stunt in the name of raising awareness. When people say that thanks to the movie, the topic of human trafficking is at least in the mainstream media, they are just kidding themselves.

Just talking about an issue in the mainstream media is never enough. India has been talking about rape for years but rape statistics are still alarming because what the politicians, actors and journalists comment is not always informational. On the contrary most of their remarks are either sexist or filled with myths which reinforce the opposite of what needs to be achieved. It does more harm than good when words are chosen without thinking and research.

I believe the intent of the movie and the show might have been to raise awareness but half knowledge is extremely dangerous. Specifically when people speak on large platforms like this where each word they say is heard by millions of their fans who almost worship them, they must be more careful and make a genuine effort to actually learn about the issue first.

 

The deepest disturbing fact about India is not rape or human trafficking. It’s the prevalence of ignorant people with access to media who reinforce myths about these issues in the name of raising awareness.