I was at work when I read the news package. A woman in her 30’s had been killed and her body chopped by her boyfriend. At 4 am in the morning, groggy eyed me had only one reaction to the story-Oh another murder story by a reporter in Mumbai. Half a year in the newsroom and all sensitivity was out of the window.

When I read the woman’s name I was sure I will get to know about her from my mom. The woman was a Shetty too and I was sure she would turn out to be either an acquaintance or some kind of a distant relative.

 

I wasn’t wrong. She was known to a lot of those I knew. Over the next few days I was privy to a lot of discussions about the murder because the man who killed her was also known to a few I knew. So I heard everyone give an opinion about the two individuals and discuss the love affair that had gone horribly wrong ending with the gruesome murder. I heard how he was a nice guy and she was pestering him to get married. I heard, ‘She must have fought with him or else he would never have been provoked this way’. ‘It was a moment of madness that led to this incident, otherwise he was a really nice man.’ I heard several versions of how he was a nice man and though the act was wrong it was a one-off incident. Some spoke about how with this one act he had jeopardized his entire life now.

To me all these conversations just hit home the point of how biased our society was. That a woman was chopped to death seemed to have been forgotten to easily. I even heard, ‘Fine he killed her, but why chop her to death?’ So murder was fine but the gruesome nature seemed to be the ‘only’ issue.

In college just at the beginning of this year I did my dissertation on matrilineal societies. My community, the Bunt community, is also a matrilineal one. A century ago that would have meant that only women had the right to inherit property and one’s lineage grew through daughters and not sons. Today with both sons and daughters being equal in the eyes of law, girls get no distinct advantage.

When it was time for my viva I was at a loss to explain my stand on my dissertation to my professor. I had come to the conclusion that my community was no different from any other in India. They were as biased if not more. There was dowry, there was the inherent bias against women, only the statistics did not back it up. Dowry deaths happen more in north India than south. Literacy rates are higher in the southern states for women. If I could go back in time, I would use this one practical incident to demonstrate how sometimes our past has no bearings on the attitudes we evolve. How sometimes no matter how high you claim to hold your women, the way you react to certain events says it all.

She was murdered. He was a murderer. To me the facts were plain and clear. It was a clear case of a wrong being done. Did it matter if she was stubborn or hot-headed? She was murdered. Period.

Advertisements