Some of the most successful women in showbiz weren’t being treated right, and they are not taking it anymore. Last month, shocking pictures of British celebrity chef Nigella Lawson’s ad-tycoon husband of 10 years, Charles Saatchi, grabbing the former’s throat shook the world. While Lawson moved out of their house and is now headed for a divorce, back home, former Miss World Yukta Mookhey is also in news for speaking boldly about the violence allegedly inflicted on her by her husband, Prince Tuli.
Social activists and lawmakers feel that both these cases will set an example for millions of women battling domestic violence and inspire them to speak up, and also bust the myth that such ghastly acts are limited to the so-called ‘less educated’ segment of the society.
“It’s the middle class and the elite who are victims of domestic violence the most, and that too from their most intimate partners, including husband and boyfriend,” says writer and activist Taslima Nasreen, adding, “In villages women are far more brave and outspoken ... they don’t care about societal stigma and all. They will make a noise if their husbands hit them, unlike urban women staying in closed apartments where everything happens in hush-hush tones, and often their shrieks remain confined within the walls even as they continue to show the world that everything is fine.”
Women’s rights activist Ranjana Kumari agrees. “In the last five years, in our women’s crisis intervention centre, 90% cases of domestic violence have been reported by well-to-do women. Abound by social norms and family prestige, they come for help only after they have been brutally tortured at home for years — physically and mentally, but I would say, don’t wait! Show your rejection the first time the hand goes up on you,” says Kumari, adding, “However, it’s good to see that celebs are now shrugging off taboos and without bothering about their image are mustering the courage to talk about such issues openly. It’ll certainly encourage other women, who’ve been tolerating such nonsense, to speak up too.”
Psychiatrist Dr Avdesh Sharma says that domestic violence is rooted in a patriarchal past. “It’s a psychological disorder, and one has to consciously change his attitude,” says Dr Sharma.
They faced it too
Shweta Tiwari: In her 14 years of marriage to actor Raja Chowdhury, he allegedly came home drunk every night and beat her up.
Zeenat Aman: Sanjay Khan, who had a relationship with actor Zeenat Aman, had reportedly thrashed her so hard that that it bruised her eyes and left a permanent scar. The Bollywood actor faced similar wrath from her husband, Mazhar Khan.
Rihanna: Rihanna’s then-boyfriend Chris Brown brutally assaulted her in 2009 and the R&B soul singer was left with a battered face.
Halle Berry: The Bond girl has admitted to having lost the capacity to hear from one ear due to the physical abuse reportedly caused by her ex-boyfriend, Gabriel Aubrey