By Zara Maqbool
Yesterday I heard the agony and helplessness in a friend’s voice that shook me to my core. She has been divorced since years and has been granted custody by the court and yet day in and out she gets bullied by the ex-husband in one-way or another. She has reached a point where she is willing to give up the children as long as he leaves her alone. This woman has been getting emotionally abused for years and yet there is no law to protect her and that can keep the bully of a husband away. The irony is that there isn’t even any financial dependence on him and yet there is simply no getting away.
Another friend sends her children for visitation every two weeks and the husband brain washes the children about the mother so much that she has to hit the start button every time the children are back defending herself to strike the balance against the character assassination against her. Even the children feel as trapped as the mother as they are forced to meet and spend time with the father who in front of their eyes used to beat their mother to a pulp.
The scary thing is that even when divorce is granted to women who have been victims of domestic violence, many people don’t believe it really happened. And that’s why it’s harder to convince others how the physical abuse has converted to emotional abuse and is as damaging as the other. My friend was manipulated by her ex- in ways that she started falling ill. He would humiliate and ridicule her every time he would pick the children. She is financially weak and so there is no judicial help to keep him away and the ex pays visits to her house whenever he feels like.
Why isn’t there a law against this? Why can’t a woman completely break free of her abuser? Another issue is the prolonged custody cases that go on for years, which is another way to keep the woman hanging in the air. Amna has been divorced since three years and wants to re marry. But the custody case is still going on and so she remains single in fear of losing her children. Basically her life has not moved on at all. She has to go to the court at every hearing come rain or shine.
There has to be a cutoff date for this! Rehan Seerat a lawyer says, “There are many loopholes in our laws which can be exploited to prolong the matter in courts. Our judicial system definitely needs reforms to address such issues.”
The sad part is that not only does the woman suffers, the minor whose interest is being determined suffers the most as he becomes a rolling ball between the two parents as the custody battle continues. In a way the flight never stops. And what he sees is that more people get involved in the fight as grandparents step in too and the name calling and blaming becomes louder than before.
The law-making agency needs to put a stop to this. There has to be a time limit to how long can a mother or father be dragged to the court. In most cases, its the mother who suffers but I have seen fathers as primary caregivers struggling against the mothers who are not really interested in the children but simply want to continue the abuse at their end.
This fight can only be fought by those who are suffering. They need to raise their voice against this and not continue to accept being manipulated and abused for years at end in the name of their children’s interest.
Story first published: 19th February 2018