Idiocy of the
Indian Protection of Women from Domestic Violence
VED from VICTORIA INSTITUTIONS
It is foretold! The torrential flow of inexorable destiny!
5. Verbal and non-verbal abuse
Where verbal abuse might be a better option
Now we need to discuss the issue of verbal and non-verbal abuse.
The expletives: Verbal abuse as understood in English is quite different from that in Indian feudal vernaculars. In English, the earlier day abuses were Son of Bitch, Son of a Gun, Bitch, Whore, Slut and such things. These words are more or less in the Indian vernaculars. The issue with these words is that when one shouts such words at another, it is a semblance of loss of mental composure and as such reflects more on the person who says it than on the persons at whom it is directed. For example, when a husband is seen or heard calling his wife a whore, a bitch, a daughter of bitch, slut and such things, what goes down is naturally the husband’s own social worth. These are more or less signs of exasperation, rather than of offence, as such.
Insubordination and the profanity: For example, a subordinate in a business organisation disobeys and is insubordinate to the boss, or is acting as the agent of a rival organisation. What is immediately done is to remove him from his job, position or responsibility. However in the case of a wife, who stands in the position of insubordination in a vernacular setting, she is actually in a powerful stance. For nothing can be done to her, other than physical violence. If the woman or her protagonists are cunning enough, such a provocative stance shall be used to make the husband go wild at his totally vulnerability to the offensive stance. He can be provoked in the Indian vernaculars very easily and once he goes in for physical violence, he is at the total receiving end. Generally wives go on such offensive only with soft husbands. In the case of tough husband, it may not work.
Now, it may be understood that only the powerless persons go in for physical violence. For, if he is in a powerful stance, and all his relatives are with him, the wife is in a powerless position. For, the very words in the communication can enslave her. These are things that the Blacks, who aim for the highest of equality, that of equality with the native English speaking whites, never can imagine. They can only understand slavery as connected to chains. The presence of chains simply is evidence that there is no mental slavery imposed on them in English, for it is simply impossible.
The right and the wrong: Now, in such a situation as we find the husband and wife to be in, it is near impossible to say one is in the wrong and the other in the right. For, what ultimately settles the issue is the social conditioning of the people involved. It is like the issue of the children not getting up when the class teacher comes into the class. In the vernacular, it is an offence, while in an English setting, it is more or less an unremarkable event.
The spur: In the vernacular, it is very evidently an issue of competition between the husband and his wife. The wife, if she is from the vernacular culture, will be taking an offensive stance at the behest of some other people, who can be either the husband’s own relatives, or her own relatives. In some cases, it may be her boss and his or her associates. Or her work colleagues.
Non-verbal abuse: Now it is time to discuss another connected thing. That is about non-verbal abuse. It is a term which I have not heard used in legal terminology. Or associated with any belligerence as in the case of husband-wife, between social or political groups, or even in the case of any official insubordination.
Even though non-verbal abuse can be discussed in an English context also, the actual terror and impact of this is felt only when the language is feudal. For every level of respect and disregard, is associated to a particular level of indicant words. The way one looks at a person who has been accorded the higher, respectful level of You, He, She, His, Her, Hers etc. will be absolutely different from the way, a person who has been assigned the lower level of indicant words.
The despoiling, the terror and the effect: The wife can address the husband with a lower level of You and refer to him with a lower level of He and His. The sheer terror and despoiling that is then affected on the husband cannot be described or explained in English. The affect can be made understood by merely saying that if a group of people go to an Indian Police Station and try such a level of communication with the police officer there, he may literally go berserk. What would then ensue would be events comparable to what happened at Jallianwalabaag.
If the wife is shown the freedom to use such words to her husband by either the husband’s own relatives or by her own relatives, she might do it. The only thing that can stop such an event from happening would be her own love and respect for her husband. However, usually such things are not connected to any intellectual evaluation of the person, but simply on how others introduce another person. So, usually if she is given the hint that her husband is a nitwit, and not deserving respect, then that is it.
Seen from an absolute perspective, both the husband as well as the wife is merely the victims of a delinquent and diabolic communication software. However, that understanding does not help matters here.
What provoked the husband: Now, there is the issue of the husband using abuse words like slut, whore, daughter of a bitch, daughter of a prostitute and such things. Well, the first issue to be understood is that these are the abusive words one learns from school and college. Not necessarily from the streets. Second is the query as to what really provoked the husband to use such words, when there was actually not much of a sound from the wife.
Non-verbal abuse in action: Here again one need to go into the realm of non-verbal abuse. What is non-verbal abuse? Well, suppose the peon in a judicial court is curling his eyebrows with a frown at the judge, or glaring at him, or simply ignoring his words to do something, or even doing the opposite of what he was asked to do, or gesturing with his hand that the judge is a non-entity. Well, these are all highly provocative non-verbal abuse. The peon actually did not use any abuse words. However, the judge would be seen to get extremely furious. If he has no other recourse to punish the peon, he may literally burst out in verbal abuse. He might even go into physical attack. However, such things do not usually happen, for the judge is empowered to use many powerful things like the executive and judicial powers, including the right to call the police. Moreover, usually the peon is also a person who knows the correct etiquette and decorum of behaving in the court. Yet, the peon’s job is a lower job and he is much subordinate to the judge.
Now, the issue of non-verbal offence can be taken to the context of the husband-wife belligerence. The wife need not use any abusive word to the husband. All she has to do is to frown at him as if he is a delinquent subordinate, curl up her brows and gesture to him in a tone of a command or admonishing. She can gesture to others not to mind him or simply to treat him like a nitwit. The issue here is that the husband does not have judicial powers, or the capacity to order the police. If the others in the scene also take a stance of hostility to him, his only way to control the violent mood that sets in would be to go in for verbal abuse. It may give him the respite from going in for physical offence.
Where verbal abuse might be a better option: The Protection of women from Domestic Violence Act does mention the issue of verbal abuse. But there is no mention of ascertaining the context of the abuse. Suppose it was the only way to subdue the provocation that should have really gone the way of physical violence? In which case, the husband did the right thing.
It is like this. The speeding car suddenly lost its breaks. It is on the verge of hitting a group of school children. The driver takes a sharp turn, goes into the wrong side of the road and hits a bus. Well, he has done a misdemeanour, apparently. For, he is in the wrong side of the road, and has hit a bus. Yet, the fact remains that he has taken this step to avoid a more painful disaster.
The law obviously cannot deal with this level of logic! Or can it? Well, it can. For that the law drafters and the judicial officers need a better mental acumen as well as deeper understanding of the compulsions that run deep into the fabric of the Indian society.
The diabolism in the language: Now, who is to blame? Well, in the final count, there is the issue of the husband as well as the wife being forced into a slot by the language software which is having a lot of negative factors.
For in a language, where words have such diabolic powers, and where each introduction sets in a variety of pulls, and tugs, from the top, the middle level, and from the bottom, social links can swing the mood as well as human relationship. For example, a simple calling of name by another person has a definite meaning that goes beyond a similar understanding in English. For a standalone name is used towards persons on whom one has some dominance. It can literally change the whole lot of indicant words, such as You to the lower levels. A wife standing in a position that allows another man to call her thus, can be a torment to her husband. Not due to any issue of extramarital relationship or seduction. But in connection with the social or professional status of the individual concerned. If he is from a lower position, it more or less signifies the social belittling of the husband. For, his wife is being either equalised or subordinated by a lower class man/woman.
If he is from a higher class, whom the husband cannot call by name, then it is dominance over his wife by another person, on whom the husband cannot reciprocate in a similar manner. All these things are items that cannot really find actual correspondence in the English world.
At the moment, I am only trying to bring out the issues. The ways and manners of bringing a solution to these issues need to be discussed separately.
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