In all cases, community support was non-existent for victims of domestic violence

Love escaped and marriage is on rocks for D. Sireesha from West Marredpally, who had entered wedlock 13 years ago with the man of her dreams. For 10 years the marriage lasted well. Trouble began soon after her husband was sponsored for an overseas assignment in 2009.

“He was a cable operator when we fell in love and got married. Later, he began to work for MNCs. His company sponsored him for an overseas job in China. After he reached there, there was a sudden change in his attitude,” recalls Sireesha.

His calls and mails began to be few and far between. He found another love, and conveyed, through online chats, his unwillingness to continue in the marriage.

“He asked for divorce and does not send money for the family. I’m educated only up to Intermediate, and cannot sustain the children on my own.

What was my fault?” an indignant Sireesha questions.

Public hearing

She was among the 26 women who sought legal guidance at the Public Hearing for ‘domestic violence survivors’ jointly organised by the Bhumika Women’s Collective, Oxfam India and AP State Women’s Commission here on Wednesday.

Going by the sample, wives left in the lurch midway through the marital life along with a child or two appear to be a norm rather than an exception. As many as 16 women out of the 26 were deserted by husbands. In all cases, community support was non-existent, and in a few it was negative.

For D. Sarojini from East Godavari, harassment was from husband’s own brother whom she brought up since childhood.

Her husband, a lorry driver, left her 20 years after marriage due to illicit relation with another woman.

Yalla Bujji, a dalit woman from Nelatur village of East Godavari district was kicked by the elders of her community, when she refused to accept Rs.5,000 in termination of her marriage of 10 years.

“My man harassed me day and night suspecting my fidelity. When I revolted, he abused me, thrashed me up, and threw me out. Later, he sent the termination offer,” she said.

Suspicion was the pretext over which B. Sashikala from Kurnool and B. Sarada from Ananthapur too were deserted, the former after her second childbirth, and the latter 12 years after marriage.

In both cases, neither community nor police was of any help.

The women got legal guidance from the jury which comprised IG, CID S.Umapathi, and Additional Director, AP Judicial Academy V.S.R. Sitaram Avadhani, apart from advocates, writers and activists.

Prior to the hearing, former Chairperson, Law Commission of India P.Venkatrami Reddy said physical, mental, sexual as well as economic harassment comes under the definition of domestic violence.

Despite laxity in implementation, it is too early to say that the Domestic Violence Act has failed, he said.

The public hearing was organised as part of 16 days of activism from November 25 to December 10, against gender-based violence, organisers informed.

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