Physical Violence and the Fault with Our Folks

Social Commentary

Physical Violence and the Fault with Our Folks

Illustration: Akshita Monga/ Arré


arlier this week, I watched the horror at Banaras Hindu University unfold with mounting dread. Women students who were protesting the molestation of a fellow student were being lathi-charged, even as a paternalistic vice chancellor decided to victim-shame them. Now, news reports tell us that the women students were cosseted by the university for a long time. Their timings were policed, they were not allowed to consume non-vegetarian food, and they were denied the use of the 24X7 library – privileges that were extended to their male counterparts without hesitation.

But it is easy to outrage at a university that places such restrictions on their students and beats them up for “overstepping their boundaries”. It is also easy to criticise the physical, emotional, and sexual violence that women undergo in their marital houses, often at the hands of their husbands. But there is an aspect of violence that often goes unaddressed, and which even the victims tend to brush over. What happens when our homes turn into violent spaces and the aggressors are our parents? Is it possible for us to rebel against them with the same vehemence, with the force of the same liberal attitudes that we apply to other aspects of our public lives?