It was a winter morning; that time, right before the sun rose, when the sky was a pale shade of grey, a tinge of blood-red adorning it along the horizon. The trees were half-dead, slightly bent and completely still. The grass was wet and sparkled like diamonds, the dewdrops clinging to it. A chilly breeze was blowing through the atmosphere and the picturesque town was mostly still asleep. Mostly, that is.
In the Ahmed household, Rabeya had woken up hours before dawn. With dreary eyes and fatigued arms, she bustled about the house, dusting and cleaning and preparing breakfast. She plugged in the iron and smoothed her husband’s white shirt, preparing to run the appliance over it when shades of smudged red near the collar caught her eye. Cautiously, with a racing heart, she peered closely in, only to have a whiff of unfamiliar, feminine perfume fill up her nostrils. Even as her eyes glazed over, she tossed the shirt into the pile of dirty laundry, hiding the ache in her heart with a deep sigh. It had been years since she discovered her spouse’s wandering ways. Lingering feelings from a fifteen-year old relationship coupled with thoughts of custody battles and financial crises had kept her trapped in a loveless marriage that mutely drained the life out of her with every passing second.
That night, just across town, a seven-year old lay huddled in his four-poster bed in a duplex house, pulling the blankets tight around him to drown out the screams that were coming from the neighboring room. Eventually, however, he gave up the fruitless attempts and tiptoed out of his room to peek into his parents’ through the keyhole…only to be greeted with a gruesome yet familiar scene. His father stood towering over Lily, his mother, with a menacing expression adorning his countenance whilst the poor woman sat sprawled on the granite floors, blood trickling down her forehead. Shards of crystal lay scattered, left-over evidence of the vase he had thrown at her.
The stories I tell you today are about so much more than just the Rabeyas and Lilys of today. It is a timeless story which has been whispered about over the millennia. Whispered, yes. Not talked about. Because, in this oppression, there is a fusion of emotions…a little bit of anger, a little bit of fear, some lost love and a whole world full of pain. There is also shame and the overwhelming question of what the society would say?
Domestic violence is a phenomenon which is dominating not just the third-world countries but also the developed world. Every 9 seconds in the US, a woman is assaulted or beaten. About 87 percent of Bangladeshi married women are physically, mentally and emotionally abused by their husbands, according to a nation-wide study conducted by the government, consisting of 12,600 women. 1 in 4 women in the UK experience domestic violence in their lifetimes. 62% percent of children in households where domestic violence is occurring are directly or indirectly harmed.
Domestic violence has indubitably turned into an epidemic. It is no longer about how educated or wealthy you are. It is about compassion and humanity. It is about acquiring the belief that it is high time we, the youths of today, come forward to create awareness and raise our united voice against this abominable, hardly-talked-about crime.