Kolkata: Parboti (name changed) had toiled hard for five years to balance her household chores to complete her degree in humanities in face of constant protests from in-laws. Her major concern was to be able to supplement the meager family income. After realizing her dream however, the constant harassment from in-laws and husband forced her to file for a divorce, she claimed.
According to the city-based Working Women Welfare Group fighting for the rights of working women against harassment, there has been a steady increase in married women subjected to domestic violence. “Thirty per cent of all working women face some kind of humiliation from husband or in-laws owing to their being financially independent” Anonya Basu, the president of the foundation, said.
However, her husband had a different tale to tell. He claimed that he was very supportive of her, and had in fact saved for her education despite having a meager monthly income of just rupees 2,000 a month.
Parboti, now 33, sacrificed nearly half a decade of her life to earn her degree and simultaneously manage household and keeping her husband pleased. But the sudden turn of events has left her devastated. “There are many women like me who suffer silently at the hands of insecure husbands and inconsiderate in-laws”, rued the woebegone humanities graduate.
Misfortune, it seems, has been a constant companion of Parboti. To provide for her ill father’s medications, she had to drop out of class 10 despite being a brilliant student. Her aspirations took a further beating when her conservative parents and relatives made her marry a man whose family was plagued by poverty, much against her wishes, and who himself had dropped out of the school after finishing his class 11.
After marriage she realized, her husband had to also fund his brother’s studies apart from supporting his parents and her. It was under these circumstances that her husband suggested that she take up an evening bachelors course to be able to supplement the family income. She was reluctant to accept the idea, but took up the challenge as she thought it was the best thing to do under the given circumstance as her husband had become more insistent. To be able to pay her fee and buy her books she had to borrow money from her already burdened parents, but as the demand was from their son-in-law, they had complied.
After all the toil she finally successfully completed her course and clinched a job at a private firm. Parboti said she had hoped for a more comfortable and happier life after she had secured the job. Her husband, however, did not retain the same enthusiasm any longer, as she painfully found out. He allegedly picked up arguments over minor issues as he was jealous of her for earning more than himself, said she.
Her husband also grew increasingly suspicious of her. Initially, he did not speak much about it, but later she sensed his suspicions had grown stronger. The suspicions, she claimed, were totally unfounded and just a product of his insecure mind’s imagination. However, she did not counter him and maintained a dignified silence in the hope that her pacifist attitude would let things get normal.
But they didn’t. Instead, the situation kept on worsening. She was left with no option, but to file for a divorce last month. The court has directed the couple to try mediation.
The husband however says that he and his parents were very supportive, and in fact that despite his meager income he had financed Parboti’s education on her insistence.
He added that Parboti’s success had “gone to her head” and that is why she had filed for the divorce.
Kindly answer this question:
Now, please read the original story: Bangalore man funds wife’s studies, gets divorce in return (click).
Now kindly answer this question:
Did your response change after reading the original story?
Sorry for making you go through this. At the time of publication, I am not sure if my experiment succeeded, but I just wanted to highlight how merely changing the tone of ones language, and the amount of space given to different characters in a story our perceptions can significantly be altered. The observant reader would notice that except for changing the name of the city and the degree course, there is very little additional information I have provided. Most of the events have been kept the same.
The entire exercise was to demonstrate the power of the mass media. With just a clever sleight of the hand (that runs over the keyboard) perceptions can be manufactured. Plus, add to it the fact that new facts could be cooked up and none would be wiser. I obviously do not know how accurate or inaccurate the Bangalore-story is, but it could have been tilted either ways to make the reader sympathetic towards one or the other, in this particular instance, it was the husband. I hope, now onwards, the readers will read news stories more circumspectly. 🙂
Thanks for your participation!