scales of justice

She hesitated and fumbled, vacillated and dithered,

When the Magistrate announced, “go for ADR, counseling and mediation”,

MeeLord, he promised he will not beat me when my parents intervened, she squeaked,

Though I may be naïve and inept to speak, yet I must tell you,

He assured he will not hit me when the neighbors intruded, but violence never stopped,

Even when I approached the religious congregations,

When I called the police, he undertook not to harm,

And then the severe scars of beatings I got, enhanced stress and tensions,

He tried murdering me for dowry, broke my bones, denied me food and hits me for no reason,

And now you again say that I should go for conciliation,

Trust him and forget all humiliation?

That I should go back to his violent home without the promise of safety or conditions,

MeeLord! I am seeking justice as a citizen.

 

Can he be pardoned for all of his brutal actions?

What about his accountability for all his criminal intentions?

What if he beats me again and again after all promises and proclamations?

You insist that I should forgive and forget for the sake of family with no retribution,

MeeLord, am I not a human being? Do I have a dignity as a citizen?

When both parties are at par, isn’t ADR suitable for such situations,

In conditions when the powerful enjoy privileges and the other faces oppression, how can there be negotiations,

MeeLord! I am seeking justice as a citizen!

 

The system grants rights to him as an accused and assured him protection,

But what about my rights as a victim, a survivor and a citizen,

Despite my rights being written in the constitution that grants me safety as a person,

Why for the sake of a family only I am expected make all sacrifices and face subjugation?

I left my home, my friends, my career and my ambitions,

to join him in house after marriage as per culture and traditions,

And still it is anticipated that I remain silent when he tortures me without any rhyme or reason,

MeeLord! I am seeking justice as a citizen.

 

The fact that I am a woman is this for me a burden?

Shouldn’t he be held liable for his violent actions?

He used all legal technicalities to evade his culpability,

He is not penalized for his brutalization,

The law and the society expect me to bow down as a wife and silently bear all humiliation,

As a woman, am I a lesser human? Why there is so much of discrimination,

MeeLord, I am seeking justice as a citizen!

 

The statistical data shows violence against women grow every year with intensification,

Young girls or old women, all are being attacked with no restrictions,

The culture of impunity is thriving because there are no convictions,

And when I say that you pointed out lesser police, more population and less staff to do supervision,

The law writes that there will be a setup to guard my rights and that there will be officers for protection,

But now you say there is no money for shelter homes, no resources for medical or mental health or safety provisions,

All political leaders want women to remain silently caged and bound but to stop violent men they have no solution,

This is not about `family’s’ internal matters, it is about safety and health of myself and my children,

MeeLord, I am seeking justice as a citizen!

 

You say that the kids are safe sound when they are with both the parents,

Tell me how a man who beats his wife can be a source of abundant love for his children?

Please don’t tell me that through his violence he pours affection,

You say my kids will not get food if he is jailed and be kept in detention,

But already he is depriving his family of the ration,

All what he is earning, he is spending in the liquor consumption,

He paid high fee to the lawyer to fight the case against me but he never paid a penny for his child’s education,

In fact, I am working day and night to provide food to my children, and none of the losses I made appeared in your alimony calculation,

MeeLord, I am seeking justice as a citizen!

 

He did everything to blame me, ostracize me and to harm my reputation,

He went on to do my character assassination and no one stopped him from blurting out all lies and fabrications,

And you absolve him for all his wrong deeds because he is a man, perhaps, could escape all his obligations,

He did all wrongs; yet I am being put on the charge every time for all his mala fide actions,

And yet you say I stay with him without any fleeting thoughts of retaliation,

This sexism, misogyny, and chauvinist notions may no longer lead to a better society’s creation,

This attitude of impunity could not create a great nation,

MeeLord, I am seeking justice as a citizen!

 

You say all the laws are made for women, the domestic violence or rape law and dowry law, all for my protection,

But could these laws really uphold women’s rights or control oppression of half of the population,

The equality guaranteed in the constitution could not become reality after years of application,

No one explains how the laws fail women in their implementation,

You say laws are abused by women when we complain,

This is a way to let our voices go unheard in vain,

There may be many women’s organizations or women’s commissions,

Yet, these couldn’t address deeply embedded patriarchal notions or could contain centuries of women’s subjugation,

Perhaps, women are still considered as someone’s women, wives, or daughters and not as independent citizens,

How can the prism of relationship be used for adjudication?

Apart from my relationships I have my own unique persona and identification,

I placed my faith in the laws, courts and the constitution,

Not to get rejected or to face dejection, but to seek justice and action,

MeeLord, I am seeking justice as a citizen!

Shalu Nigam is an activist, advocate and a researcher working on gender, human rights, law and governance issues. She has written several books and articles. Her recent publications include Women and Domestic Violence Law in India: A Quest for Justice and Domestic Violence Law in India: Myths and Misogyny.


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