After a week at Karunya Mane and away from her abusive husband, we talked to Kamini today about what she was thinking and how she was feeling.
She told us that she and her little ones are very happy at KM. We asked her about her feelings toward her husband, and she emphasized that she wants nothing to do with him. She told us that he has a good side in that he goes to work daily and he loves the kids, but when he drinks (which is often), he gets nasty and beats her.
Kamini said that her only worry now was the trouble that her husband would cause us when we are working on the street; she started to cry, worrying for our safety. We told her not to worry, he will not do anything with a lot of people around.
Earlier, we had gone to the Mysore law court to meet a social worker named Ranjini. Ranjini is stationed outside the family law court and her specific job is to help women with domestic problems---she is helping Mary with her divorce case. She explained to us that the Domestic Violence Act covers even women who are living with a man and making a home together but are not legally married, often the case with poor people in this country. Kamini would be covered under this provision.
We asked Ranjini's advice on Kamini's situation. She said that we should first ascertain what Kamini wants to do. If she chooses to leave him, she should then decide on what she wants from him---alimony, visitation rights for dad, protection. Under the Act, the court must rule on her case within three months.
Ranjini also said that Kamini may today want nothing to do with him, but later she may miss him and want to go back. At this point, the government offers counseling to both the man and the woman, such as helping the woman recognize the signals that the man is about to beat her, and working with the man to stop his pattern of abuse. Often, poor men have had no proper support while growing up, are emotionally immature, and learned to abuse women because they saw their fathers beating their mothers. The only way they know to express their frustration or anger is to beat their woman.
When Kamini was twelve, she ran way from home because her stepmother abused her. She stayed with some friends, and then lived on the street, where she met her husband. Kamini expressed to us that she feels really stupid for making bad choices when she was young, because she had taken up with this man after many people had warned her not to go with him.
Kamini said that this last beating took place during the time her son takes his nightly medicine. She told her husband to please wait before he laid into her, so he could give the boy his pills. Her husband had gotten angry with her because she was sitting with her sister-in-law, as they were making their flower garlands to sell. He doesn't like sister-in-law, so he beat his wife for interacting with her.