My domestic help and I rarely have any conversation due to the language problem and I like it that way. She breezes in does her stuff and scurries off and I go on with my life. This situation changed when her daughter gave birth to her second grand daughter. I could sense that all was not well. In spite of the language problem she got accross the all to familiar scenario confronting Indian womanhood. Scarcely had the child been born the husband talking of aborting future fetuses if they were girls. The girl had to wash the clothes of the young one herself and her fingers became stiff as it is quite cold in the coorg region where she stays. After making a few trips to and fro and absenting herself from work for long intervals, Rajamma finally brought her daughter and her two children here. Then a few days later the little one got diarrhoea and she left her daughter and children at her in laws'. But they must have made her life hell again for a few days later she brought them back. My landlord's daughter informed me that here if the woman is unwell she is sent back to her mother's place to get better! She is brought back only when she is fit to do household work! Rajamma used to remain distraught when her daughter was away now she is happy and least her daughter and her children are before her eyes. The husband used to beat her also! I sounded like a lunatic when I told her " tell your son in law that hitting the wife is against the law of the country and so is sex based abortion", she nodded her head. I told her that her daughter should refuse to bear any more children, and I told her not to send her back unless she says so herself. Rajamma said the children do not have warm clothes, I gave whatever clothes I had of my two young ones. She smiled and said the clothes had fitted both the infant and the older girl. That's about all the help I could give. I know there is a domestic violence act in place and a law exists saying that sex based feotal abortion is a crime but how to apply these laws to real poeple. Will Rajamma's daughter be ready to file a case against her husband? She is so exausted just carrying on from day to day that I cannot even imagine her trying to find out the laws in her favour, in this scenario there is only one law that works, that laid down by the husband and his family.
There is a requirement of a network of social organizations that work in the space between the laws and the women for whom they are made. The majority of women who need these laws are totally oblivious to them. My entire PhD thesis is about this basic problem however, even I who has studied about these laws for 5years am unable to help Rajamma and her daughter in a real situation. The son in law will probably spit in her eye if his wife tells him that domestic violence is illigal. Our social order has laws of its own where constitutional and legal assertions like equality and non discrimination makes no sense.