Domestic Violence: When a Knock at the Door is Not Enough

Published on Chowk.com on May 9th 2008

What are the odds that I move into a house in the elite F/11 sector of Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad and our land lord turns out to be a wife-beater – I in 4, according to the United Nations report on gender 2007. Flip it around and the same applies to 25% of all women in this country are said to have faced violence from their male relative, be it a father, brother, uncle, husband or son. Take this statistic to a new geographical location and nothing changes, the same 1 in 4 of all relatively empowered women of the developed world face domestic violence at some point in their life regardless of race or socio-economic standing. There are two profound differences though, a woman in the west is more mobile and flexible in terms of walking out of a relationship and even moving into a shelter with her kids, and she is more likely to get the abuser to incur some damage, be it financial, social or legal.

This woman in F/11 in a corner house with a beautiful lawn has no such chance. There is no weapon, no upper hand, or moral imperative she holds to his mindless violence. I heard loud noises coming from their house while my family was away, and at first I ignored them, assuming they are arguments with some random person in our side of the driveway. When they grew louder, it was apparent it was a domestic squabble, over some matter, water in the drive way that she should have gotten cleaned up. The mister was making demands, his wife was giving explanations. I reacted by ignoring it. What’s the point?

Soon, I heard the deafening thuds that beg a three act internal dialogue in your head, everything comes back, every character has an opinion and a role in this mind’s eye, while you struggle to decide if you are part or not. Now you’re a part, now you are not. He was hitting her. And that too real hard. I wondered what it was, knuckles, wall, just dragging, a couple of slaps, shoves, punches, or objects. There was also the simple wham that hit right near the eyes where it hurt the most. I kept saying to myself, I just got carpeting, curtains and air conditioning installed. I deserve a mental break, treat yourself, stay out of something you can’t affect.

This man who was now savage was salt and pepper haired. He watered his own garden everyday, Kissed his 3 year old son, was seemingly proper and respectful. His wife and I interacted a couple of times, she came across as sweet and informative, even knowledgeable. One of the first few things she said to me was, that her husband found it rather strange that I was singlehandedly involved with the hired help to construct a fenced wall for the pets and do all the carpeting, and she said, she too believed in doing things herself. Generally positive, definitely practical. In just a day we agreed to share duties of maintaining the gardens and cleaning the driveways.

The same woman was getting battered, so after about 15 minutes of her pleads and the children weeping, I couldn’t take it anymore, and decided to get downstairs, when I did, the impact of it only grew. She was being dragged against my wall. The wall I paid a year in advance to enjoy “peaceful and quiet living

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