Domestic violence has a new address around Pune. The burgeoning city which has sent land prices in its periphery climbing fast, has triggered a lot of farmland sale in the past few years.
The rising liquidity (or the thirst for it) of the landed gentry around the city has not only propelled their new generation into a different lifestyle but is also spawning a certain aggression towards their womenfolk.
The Karve Institute of Social Services has found a sudden jump in cases of domestic violence from these pockets. In 2011, it had four such cases but the next year the number of new money-driven cases of violence had shot up to 40. Not all of the new cases are of men empowered by sale of their farmland.
“The prospect of money to be made from slum redevelopment projects are also triggering domestic violence,” informed Supriya Bendkhale, a counsellor at Karve Institute’s family counselling centre. At least 15 of the 40 cases reported to the institute last year come from this segment. The aspirations for high-living are driving the new generation to this violence she pointed.
When 22-year-old Ankita’s marriage was fixed with Suresh (30 – again name changed), the son of a rich landlord, she saw promise in the prospect. But her happiness did not last long. Suresh did nothing for a living. Money, however, was not the problem. Her groom turned out to be a philanderer.
Questioning him only provoked physical assaults. No woman had right to question him, he would say. Abuses and slaps became a daily routine. Given his promiscuity she lived in the fear of contracting HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases. Then when she got pregnant, to her horror, her husband and in-laws started pressurizing her to abort.
This pushed her to go back to her parents’ place and go ahead with the pregnancy. After the baby came, Suresh, for fear of alimony has been coaxing her to return to live with him, but Ankita is not so sure about her safety at her husband’s place.
Similarly, Sharada (45), eldest of four siblings has been living in fear of her younger brother. Since her parents’ death a decade ago her brother sold off huge tracts of land and started living ostentatiously.
When she questioned him, he threatened dire consequences and she felt compelled to call her two sisters to come live with her. But one night a few goons appeared at her doorstep and beat up the sisters.
Given her brother’s political affiliation, the neighbours did not intervene, bringing her to Karve Institute for help. Likewise, Anita a widow with a sixyear- old kid was physically abused and driven out of her home by her brotherin- law, who wanted the property that was legally hers. Children of rich farmers tend to get spoilt by their parents, said Supriya.
“Lacking education, the parents are unable to guide their children about the rights and wrongs of life and peers bear a greater influence on the young generation, particularly during their teens,” she pointed out. She also blames the role of media, particularly television, in shaping these people’s aspirations for joining the upwardly mobile.
“Parties, smoking and alcohol are their icons of such lifestyle,” Supriya added. The gender imbalance in the Indian society is stronger in the rural community and the place of the woman still remains limited to the kitchen and raising children. “The sudden liquidity that holds the promise of a life that can be lived without working imbibes narcissistic tendencies,” she explained.
In fact, besides the lure of big money, the current spate of land sale is also a trend set off by the younger generation’s refusal to engage with farming. Interestingly, slum rehabilitation programmes have also bred similar domestic violence. Many of the habitants make two ration cards, one in the name of the son in the hope of managing to get two flats in the new building.
However, builders give them only two-bedroom flat with the son as the co-owner. “We have cases where the son forces his parents to sell off flat and the mother becomes an easy target in this endeavour,” Supriya told Mirror.
► The sudden liquidity that holds the promise of a life that can be lived without working imbibes narcissistic tendencies. The prospect of money triggers this violence
- Supriya Bendkhale Counsellor, Karve Instt of Social Service