‘I will die of wounds and pain’

Sitting uncomfortably on the cold floor of her kitchen, Shagufta Akther (name changed), in her early thirties, recounts the cruelty inflicted on her by her husband.

Apart from narrating pains and sorrows of her married life, she shares her fears and apprehensions about the future security of her life. Akther narrates that her husband often in a fit of anger beats her to pulp.

The blackened bruise on her thigh was inflicted by him, she says, adding that her only fault was to retort back to her husband’s harsh word about her parents.

“He beats me whenever he gets angry. I have no other way to respond but through words,” she says in a low tone. After a brief pause and with tears in her eyes, Akther shared that her husband often threatens to remarry.

“I have a small child and it pains me to hear these words.” Akther was married three years ago and her husband is a labourer.

Wiping her tears, she blames her destiny for landing her in such a situation.

“I believe it is my fate to suffer like this.”

She adds that her poor parents tried their every bit to get her happily married.

Akther’s tears were inconsolable as she finds no end to her sufferings. She is not alone. Many married women in Kashmir are subjected to worst forms of domestic violence and in some cases it has led to their death.

Women in Kashmir constitute 55 per cent of the patients visiting the Psychiatric Diseases Hospital in Srinagar, with most sufferings from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD).

Dr Aasiya, a counselor in the Psychiatric Diseases Hospital, hospital adds that she comes across some patients who have been beaten or burned by their husbands or in-laws.

Sounding whimsical about her future, Akther sobs, “I know my death will not be natural. I will die of my wounds and beatings.”

In the past many years, a number of women have lost their lives due to extreme mental and physical tortures at the domestic level, says Dr Shabir Iqbal, professor plastic surgery, Government Medical College, Srinagar.

“The situation is getting worst day-by-day.”

Unlike others Akther feels like registering her case anywhere would bring her more miseries.

“Whom will I speak to? Who should listen to a poor woman complaining about her cruel husband?”

Many women are subjected to domestic violence. Some speak about it and some are silent but everyone cries for help.