After having faced domestic violence for 14 years of her marriage, when Parvin decided to separate, her husband took revenge by attacking and disfiguring her.
At first glance, Parvin seems to have been a survivor of an acid attack. But the violence she faced beggars belief. Married off at 12 by her parents, she refused to go to her in-laws’ place. Later she met and got married to Hanif, her husband. Since she went against her parents’ wishes in marrying him, they refused to have anything further to do with her. But her marriage was not a happy one and she faced a lot of domestic violence.
Her husband took her to a clinic and illegally determined that the foetus was a girl. Parvin was made to abort the foetus.
In 1997, when she gave birth to her first child, a daughter, the mental and physical assaults from her husband intensified “He wanted a son,” Parvin says. Three years later, Parvin was pregnant again. Her husband took her to a clinic and illegally determined that the foetus was a girl. Parvin was made to abort the foetus. In a few months, she was pregnant again. “I protested and cried but he beat me,” recalls Parvin when she as forced to terminate her pregnancy for a second time because of the sex of the foetus. She got pregnant a third time that year but miscarried. “I wanted another child. So, the next time I got pregnant, I didn’t tell anyone. But in my fifth month, my husband beat me very badly with a hockey stick. I fell down and could not get up. I started bleeding and everyone found out about the pregnancy. It was already the fifth month, so there could be no abortion. I had my second daughter,” says Parvin.
“I cried and shouted for help but no one came to my aid.”
The abuse continued unabated even after her birth. “Fed up, I started living separately in 2008.” Parvin, without the support of her natal family, decided to separate and file for a divorce from her abusive husband. It was an incredibly brave step in this deeply patriarchal society, but one that would cost her. Few months on, in March 2009, her separated husband turned up in the early hours of the morning when she and her daughters were sleeping. “He gave the girls some money and asked them to go get sweets. He then came in and attacked me brutally: he held me by the shoulders and started biting my face. He attacked me and bit me like a wild animal hunting its prey. He bit my nose so hard and didn’t let up until it was torn off my face. I cried and shouted for help but no one came to my aid.” Parvin recounts this horrendous ordeal, impassive, looking straight at the camera. As viewers, we can’t help but shudder.
But this brave woman did not back out. Despite this looming threat to her and her daughters’ lives, she continues to pursue her divorce case. “He did such a horrible thing to me. I don’t think anyone has ever perpetrated such an attack anywhere in the world,” she says. Parvin’s daughters are her pride and joy. The eldest is studying for a Masters in Business Administration while she’s putting the youngest through school. But despite her grit and determination that led to overcoming the massive odds that were piled up against her, it is she and her daughters that people taunt and look down upon, not the monster of a man who tried to destroy her. “We have to put up with a lot, society looks at us with a distorted lens. I am responsible for my daughters and I am bringing them up well,” adds the iron lady. She works as an anganwadi worker to support her family. She has recently appealed to the High Court in Gwalior for finalising her divorce after it was dismissed in a lower court. Her struggle continues, but Parvin is not about to give up.
Today, November 25, marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. According to the latest report on the progress of the Sustainable Development Goals, 19 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 49 years of age have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner. In the most extreme cases, such violence can lead to death. It’s time to stop averting our eyes from the magnitude of the problem.
Video by Community Correspondent Jyoti Kadam
Article by Madhura Chakraborty, a journalist in the VV editorial team