[QODLink]
Witness
Ending the Violence
Beauty Ara takes a personal stand against domestic abuse and violence in India.
Last Modified: 15 Jun 2009 13:48 GMT

Watch part two

Filmmaker: Ashok Prasad

Ending the Violence follows the stories of three extraordinary people who are fighting to eliminate the threat of violence many South Asian women face in their own homes every day.

The existence of domestic violence in homes across South Asia is not new. Acid attacks, dowry demands and honour killings are all common cultural practices throughout the region.

What is shocking is the number of women affected. Studies indicate that one out of every two women across South Asia is battered by their husband. Now, a major new campaign has began to bring the horrors of domestic violence out into the open - and to make it socially unacceptable.

Beauty Ara is a counselor who has the unenviable job of reprimanding men who hit their wives. "When I counsel people and I see them when they are angry and arguing, they  swear at me very badly," says Ara, "And they say it’s a private matter – they say 'Don't interfere! This is our business'."

Violence does not just happen behind closed doors. In the tribal area of Jharkand in east India, where belief in witchcraft is still widespread, Poonam Toppo lived under constant threat of torment and even death by her neighbours who called her family witches.

Her family tolerated it. "They said leave it because we are weak," says Poonam , "but I always felt it was wrong and that I must protest."

Today Poonam works with the Oxfam charity and regularly takes volunteers out to tribal areas to present a play based on her own traumatic childhood.

The audience is entranced - particularly the men, who are not accustomed to fellow Indians telling them what is socially unacceptable in their own homes. This was the experience of Mohammad Obaidur Rahman who became so remorseful for beating his wife that he decided to join the campaign to stop domestic violence.

"When I think about it now I feel embarrassed. I think what did I do? What did I do? I feel bad about it, embarrassed and ashamed," he says.

Domestic abuse is not likely to be a problem that will go away anytime soon in South Asia. But campaign workers are determined to tackle it. "If we follow what the campaign says, families will be happy," says Mohammad. "If our family is at peace then we will also be at peace. And if our neighbours are at peace we are also at peace. That's why this work needs to be done."

Source:
Al Jazeera
Topics in this article
People
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
Assam officials upset that WWII-era Stillwell Road won't be used in transnational highway linking four Asian nations.
Informal health centres are treating thousands of Syrian refugees in Turkey, easing the pressure on local hospitals.
Indonesian and Malaysian authorities are keeping a close eye on local supporters of the hard-line Middle East group.
Wastewater ponds dot the landscape in US states that produce gas; environmentalists say they’re a growing threat.
China President Xi Jinping's Mongolia visit brings accords in the areas of culture, energy, mining and infrastructure.
join our mailing list