I'm really excited to share a lot of amazing updates since the last time I wrote in with the release of the app. Saahas has been doing really great so far - it's had quite a couple of downloads and I've managed to add over 3000 new entries over the past month of verified service providers.
An interesting update is that now I am also adding child-specific support for survivors of child sexual abuse and culture crimes like child marriage and honour killings, which is constantly one of the biggest issues most people are seeking resource support on out of a Good Samaritan motive. I'm also really excited to collaborate with Safecity, with my friend Elsa Marie D'Silva, where we're putting together a series of events in the run up to the International Day of Peace (September 21, 2017). Watch this space for more, I'll have more to share.
Now here's something where YOUR help will matter to me. No matter how much the GBV Help Map and Saahas are working, one of the biggest issues that many women have told me in the recent past is that they don't have any means to seek justice when they or anyone they know faces marital rape across several countries. Since I'm from India and most of the women I talk to about this are all Indian, I decided to do something about it. I came up with a petition to demand the criminalization of Marital Rape under Indian laws. If we're able to change the legal landscape around this, we may be able to help more women who face violence around us. I'm sharing a rather difficult story below from one of the women I got to meet and speak with. Please read it and consider signing the petition. You can also help with the petition on Social Media - look up the links at the end of the post!
“You chose your husband. Stop complaining and deal with it.”
That was the only thing I was told when I talked to my mother and father about being raped every night by my husband.
“See, beta, there is nothing called as rape in marriage. You are both married so that means society has given you license to procreate. Your husband owns your body.”
That was the first thing my gynaecologist told me when I told her what was happening.
“Rape? How can we file a case like this madam? Husband hai na woh aapka? Aise thodi case file kar sakte hain?”
That was what the police told me when I asked to file a case.
“Sorry, I’m really, really sorry. I know what’s going on is wrong, but rape by a husband is not recognized by law. I can, at the most, make a plea for grievous hurt, cruelty by the husband, and have him sentenced if they find evidence. Otherwise, we can file a domestic violence case and that will entitle you to a civil remedy. Or, easiest, divorce is the best option.”
That was what my lawyer told me when I went to her for legal advice.
“This is clearly a case of marital incompatibility. Husband and wife are unable to live with each other. There is no record of violence on part of the husband. The wife represents a tendency towards psychological impotence or female sexual dysfunction. Divorce is granted on grounds of irretrievable breakdown of marriage.”
In a nutshell, that was what my divorce order said.
But, no one knows that I was raped night after night. That my husband forced himself on me even when I said no. That my husband didn’t care that I was menstruating and did not want sex. That my husband would insert objects up me - everything from candles to pen caps, and once, even tried lodging a coin to see if he could get it out with his organ. That my husband would impose himself on me anywhere - if we were at a party, he would drag me to a bathroom and force me to have sex with him; if we were at a friend’s place, he would dramatically tell them that he couldn’t resist me and wanted to have me right then - so would they lend us a room for some time? That my husband’s antics were seen as being the equivalent of a hopeless romantic day in and day out and so everyone would tell me to shut up and stop complaining. That my husband would bring friends of his over so they could film us, and if I wasn’t willing, he would drag me bodily and strip me till I gave in. That my husband forced me to down mifeprestone and misoprostol the day I knew I was a few weeks pregnant because a baby is too much responsibility.
In my culture, they say that the name of your husband should be etched in your henna so that you have a long and happy marriage. Today, I look at the vacant spot in my palm where his name was once etched in brown amidst cheerful laughter in the background and wonder, how could I have known that the man I had fallen in love with and been in love with, could be such a monster. Today, I look at that brown stain that refused to wash out.
Today, the world knows us as the man who loved too much and the woman who was a cold bitch. No one reads between the lines.
SIGN OUR PETITION
Our petition calls for an overhaul in the Indian Criminal Legislative System. Sign it here.
WHAT TO DO?
If you are a survivor yourself, or know of someone who is a survivor, find out what you can do here.
Support us on this campaign by using Social Media to call for change here.