Why did they surrender themselves repeatedly and offer sex to their husbands when…

“Satyamev Jayate mums should have gone on a ‘sex strike’” is a response to Episode 1 of Satyamev Jayate by Amir Khan. (Thanks for the link Biwo)

Satyamev Jayate mums should have gone on a ‘sex strike’


However pitiful the plight of these mothers, there’s one thing though that I don’t quite get. After the first instance of being battered or tricked into having an abortion, why did the women not go on a ‘sex strike’ – by denying their respective husbands the one thing they evidently craved for in the relationship?

Why did they surrender themselves repeatedly and offer sex to their husbands when they had learnt from experience that the husbands and the in-laws were cruel, and would likely abort the foetus if it turned out to be a girl?

Of course, the classic counter-argument to this would be that they — and other women in similar marriages — would be battered into submission if they withheld sex, which even the courts ruled recently was grounds for divorce.

But that theory doesn’t fly far: the women were anyways being beaten and/or abused, so in effect every time they submitted themselves to having sex, they were ‘rewarding’ their tormentors. Whereas if they had “crossed their legs” — or better still, walked out of their marriages (which they eventually did), they may have been spared much more agony.”  [From here]

The author seems to believe,

1. That sex is something women give and men take.

2. Sex is ‘surrender’ by one partner (woman), conquest by another (man).

3. Women who are not able to walk out of abusive and violent marriages despite being forced to have repeated abortions should be able to stop their husbands from raping them.

4. That the solution to female foeticide is women denying sex to their husbands. (This is not seen as a denial to the women, because Indian women do not like sex anyway).

This thinking is not unheard of. Don’t you think Patriarchy’s basic principle is complete control over women’s sexuality?

Related Posts:

Romanticizing innocence, chastity and related taboos for women.


57 thoughts on “Why did they surrender themselves repeatedly and offer sex to their husbands when…

  1. Hmm, problematic at so many levels, starting with the assumption that the women didn’t need sex themselves. Even if we assume that most women will not enjoy sex in a bad relationship, what are the options? How many parents are willing to ‘take back’ these women? How many are financially independent? What guarantees do they have that the husband would not kick them out for refusing sex? Easy to preach.


  2. Dear IHM… You have struck the right chord here!! I have even heard comments like women must not like sex….we are tuned into thinking that it is wrong to express ourselves sexually. It is immoral!
    On a different note, had the women denied themselves & their husband(as the author says); I guess they would have been afraid that their spouse would go to someone else apart from the fear of being battered/abused/raped.


  3. What can one say to such ridiculous people, IHM? Women who are beaten into submission should somehow be able to “cross their legs” and that will be enough to prevent themselves from being forced into sex? I suppose this person has never heard of rape, which is unfortunately what so many women experience in the marital home.


  4. I do not agree with the author here… When a man can beat his wife with hockey stick and eat her alive, what makes you think he would not have raped her? Anyways most women continue to stay in their marriages not out of love, but out of other compulsions. In many cases, they have very few exit options! Like Parveen finally said “jurm karna paap hai to sehna bhi paap hai”… They did what they should have done – walk out of their marriage, with-holding sex is not really a solution


    • A lot of times the question becomes – Walk out and go where? Do what? Some of these females are so financially dependant on their husbands that they do not know how to survive in the external world. Their life has been limited to their parents before marriage and in-laws after. The parents refuse to take them back and so they suffer. Some of them even have other kids that they desperately want to save or whom they wish a good life. How do you save such people? If we say walk out as a solution we will also need to provide them a way to fend for themselves – help them till they are set.


      • Very well said! For those who have not been trained to live independently at any point in time or for women who are not educated, it is 10 times more difficult to walk out than any average educated woman.


  5. Something as serious and grave as battering a woman and forcing her into abortion should be cured by giving the tormentors an earful and confidently walking out of the relationship (and of course registering a case against them if they are forcing abortion of girl child). Such tormenting husbands crave power and control more than anything else. Hence, giving (rather offering sex as per the article) sex is not a solution. Moreover, sex is not a thing or an object that can be given and taken.


    • Walk out and go where? Do what? Some of these females are so financially dependent on their husbands that they do not know how to survive in the external world. Their life has been limited to their parents before marriage and in-laws after. The parents refuse to take them back and so they suffer. Some of them even have other kids that they desperately want to save or whom they wish a good life. How do you save such people? If we say walk out as a solution we will also need to provide them a way to fend for themselves – help them till they are set.


      • i agree with u ddeepa.. some women are left with no choice as they are not accepted back by their parents. unless and until there is a self help group or they find some financial independence.


      • There are many NGOs which help women find jobs and employment. But, the first step has to come from the women. And of course from all of us as a society making sure we do not look down upon them.
        And yes, walking out is easier once you forget about what people will say and care about your happiness. My mom walked out of her marriage when there was no support from her parents, she was financially dependent at that time. But courage does come! Employment does come when you look around you and make sure you take some efforts in that area instead of dancing to the tunes of the tormenters.
        I am not saying you walk out just one fine day. Of course some study needs to be done about the practical aspects of finance and accomodation before walking out. But yes, in such situations, walk out they must!


        • Mypunchingbag. Your mother is an amazing role model, as are Rituji and Vidyut of AamJanta.


  6. This has to be one of the most retarded articles to ever be written by a ‘journalist’. Honestly, has he been living under a rock?? How on earth did he ever develop such views? And to try and cover up his mistakes he puts in a couple of updates but still doesn’t acknowledge that his views are idiotic. How do people like this get hired, I wonder…


    • So I read his biography on the site and it says:
      ‘Over 25 years, Venky worked in The Indian Express, Frontline newsmagazine, Outlook Money and DNA, before joining FirstPost ahead of its launch. Additionally, he has been published, at various times, in, among other publications, The Times of India, Hindustan Times, Outlook, and Outlook Traveller.’

      And people with such experience can still hold views like this? As always, age is just a number…


      • PGW, as a former journalist, I can say with some assurance that few male journalists are able to shed sexist beliefs and modes of behavior.

        Male journalists are no better and no worse than other educated, middle-class Indian men.

        Like Mukul Kesavan says, most Indian men have a bullet-proof senses of self-entitlement. The suffering of lesser mortals like women usually fails to pierce through it to touch their hearts.

        I have no doubt that Venky Vembu is geniuned perturbed at the women’s willingness to suffer years of abuse and torture.

        As an educated, middle-class/upper-caste man, what experience does he have of deprivation, abuse or discrimination? None I presume.

        All his life, his gender, caste and socio-economic status have shielded him from any kind of abuse or discrimination.

        So he probably cannot fathom how a woman would continue sexual relations with her abuser. He’s only put into words, the thoughts that many men think but do not articulate.


        • Just as my husband thinks the only dimension to myself is the sexual one. To provide him with sex and if he denies me sex (as he has for the past few years ‘to punish me’ for whatever his male mind thinks is a transgression), to go out looking for sex with whoever I can hook. That I will sleep with the first man who I meet if I go out to work.

          Just as my counselor (a man) thinks it is somehow ‘my fault that I got my husband used to my being accomodating to his demands’ so he is bound to retaliate if I deprive him of what he thinks is his right!

          No, I haven’t got the courage yet to be open with my family about having gone to a counselor. So at least I can go.


        • Just Me, a male counsellor may not be able to empathise with your predicament and give you the support you seek.

          I also visited a male therapist a couple of times before my divorce. I found that I could not open up as uninhibitedly as I had with a female therapist I visited earlier.

          Perhaps you should look for a female, pro-woman therapist to really get the clarity and closure you seek. It appears that your counsellor is on a victim-blaming spree and is minimising and invalidating your experiences.


        • That huge sense of entitlement is the biggest turn off ever.. They are not even aware of it I feel..

          P.S: IHM, I see that my previous comment still shows ‘awaiting moderation’ but I thought you had already approved it…


  7. Deny?!!!! WTF The writer seems to think the women had human rights and liberties? You mean after all that violence the woman would say :”Look buddy, get your ass out of my bed?” Some people ….. And in rape – sex is not a reward, it is power. What the rapists do is effectively tell the victim ‘You are nothing but a sex toy to help me get off’ I am absolutely annoyed by this article


  8. > Don’t you think Patriarchy’s basic principle is complete control over women’s sexuality?
    You nailed it. Been toying with the idea for a while.
    My idea of ‘equality’ for women is pretty simple – when a female can walk the streets, topless, with the same ease & comfort that men do.
    Yet symbolizes so much.


    • Walking on the street topless like men would be a big step in our cultural context and extremely symbolic as you said, but there are cultures where women do have this freedom, for example certain tribes, but they are still denied many many other more freedoms because the culture remain patriarchal.


  9. This set my teeth on the edge.

    Does the writer really think that a man who is capable of dragging his wife by the hair to an abortion clinic will not ‘uncross’ her legs and rape her?

    That’s not even all. In his update to the post, the writer acknowledges that sex-denial might lead to the women being battered and raped but says

    //But it can happen only once – after which the women ought to walk out of the marriage – rather than be subjected to repeated pregnancies and abortions.)//

    Looks like he also believes that these women were waiting to be battered and raped before walking out of the marriage, and sex-denial was a way to bring it on sooner just so they could walk out sooner.

    What terribly warped thinking!!


  10. IHM,
    Life is not always black & white. A lady in the Indian society has to face a lot of problems if she is divorced, and divorce is a last option for her. Why aren’t her feelings being taken into count? There might be lots of good memories she must have shared with her husband, and this dark side might only be a small part of the story – definitely heavy nevertheless.

    Not all women can turn back and fight – but yes, denying sex will achieve nothing. The marriage will anyhow get abusive, so it’s better to part ways rather than withholding sex and facing abuse or tough times.


    • Punam! …Honestly divorce is the last option. As much as I hear that the society is opening up, divorce is getting acceptable; I have only come across discrimination. Even when it is an amicable divorce, if heard that one is divorced (not single…the man becomes single; the woman will be termed divorced especially if she also has a kid or 2!) the fault is always the woman’s!
      There is no support for the trauma underwent in the marriage or out of it!! Just that it is less trauma out of it, & better to walk out, make a life for herself albeit difficult.Guess one has to weigh the pros & cons…
      Ona lighter note…I must share an experience I face as being a single woman (sorry divorcee) with a child. These lucky draws in malls… I never want to get in, the people there still take details. Invariably I win them! Get the phone call…they tell me what I have won. Then ask for my marital status! On hearing my answer, they stammer away saying it is only for married couples. Prizes like kitchen set or holidays or tickets to places like Dash’n’Splash. Used to get bugged and ask why can’t single women go to such places or cook. Nowadays, I just listen…when they start stammering, just say…yeah yeah I know. Thanks anyways! 🙂 Simple thing but still a discrimination all the same against divorce..don’t you think? In the long run, these things do take a toll on one…


      • Whhhhat how can they deny you a prize because its only for a married person? I mean, why wouldn’t a single person want a kitchen set? And what kind of holidays are ONLY catered for married people, I wonder? You should write to the sponsoring company. Unless, it’s all some conjob and not a prize at all but they want to get you to buy something in which case, good riddance.


        • If I were married, then I can claim the prize…quite genuine & not a sales gimmick alone I hear from my married friends who have claimed at least one prize! 😀


        • @Apar Heh. Cannot imagine what the logic might be to only let married people win. And if this is so, why not make it clear before allowing unmarried people to enter the lucky draw? The mind boggles.


      • Apar! I am apalled at your experiences and thanks for sharing them with me. It is a hypocritic society that we live in. Further more, in most forms, you will find the following handles: Married, Single, Divorced.. WHY?? Isn’t single enough?

        We have to fight for these injustices.. that reveal a private part of a woman’s life by way of such fields in forms. My heart goes out to you and I wish something is done for people going through difficult times like being single moms, to make things easier rather than tougher.



  11. The first thing i checked after reading the article was whether the writer was a man or a woman. No surprises there. At the risk of male bashing, why dont men understand that if women had the basic right over their bodies – not in principle but in practice – then most of the atrocities against women (rape, abuse etc) would not be as common as they are?


  12. It was frustrating to read the article and it became more frustrating after looking at the author’s biography! Really, does he live in parallel worlds to assume that the women, the likes of who were featured in the show, can just say NO and will be allowed to rest in peace? Every woman in such a situation would know that if she says NO to sex (which is the supposed right of a husband), then what follows will be horrendous. If she actually did have that courage, then she might as well walk out of that hell!
    Looks like he just wanted to add his own fuel to the fire that the online community has spread and get his two seconds of fame!


  13. Two points taking the author’s point forward (even though I completely disagree):
    1. What when the man then goes to another woman, justified at adultery because he was denied his entitlement?, and
    2. What about when families agreed with the doctors to extinguish a pregnancy without telling their patient?

    How does denying sex help the sex ratio? This is also on the woman’s head now – it happened because she got pregnant?! More victim blaming. Eliminating a pregnancy or preventing one…both don’t help get gender equity.

    Plus Venky’s talking as though women have that kind of control and right in households that don’t flinch at foeticide! This is a mindset disconnect – glad there are people like Venky who don’t seem to know what it is to be in this position, even if it does nothing to help those who want their children born alive.


  14. Firstly, the Indian women have always been taught to treat there husbands as God, no matter they kick or thrash you. Well!!! this doesn’t happen with everyone. But victims are still there and they do bear it with patience, because of some teachings which they have been taught from early childhood :example:After marriage a women should stay with her husband and should never think of coming back to her parents.The problem is women are so very dependent on there husbands that they can’t revolt in any manner against them. The first thought that comes to there mind is “what will i do if my husband leaves me”. Being independent is the only solution for a women to get confidence and stand against her husband and in laws for any wrong action.Women should now take a stand they should learn not to be dependent anymore.Specially in Rural areas.There confidence will give them a courage to stand against any kind of exploitation,domestic violence.And courage to say “NO” for abortions and forced sex.


  15. God, The kind of people who get to write in the media….
    This is the basic problem. WOmen do not die if they leave a marriage/walk out of a marriage. This system needs to change so that women can just walk out and these kind of abuses wil come down.
    Anyway, after putting up with a lot of abuse, they walk out someday. why not earlier? Difficult but we must teach our women to break those mental shackles


    • “Anyway, after putting up with a lot of abuse, they walk out someday.” Well many do not. They can’t, for various reasons others have pointed out. Even if you have a job, finding a house to rent as a single woman is not easy in urban areas for middle class women.

      “why not earlier?” Because even in countries with more liberal attitudes to women and better support systems, women with abusive spouses find it hard to walk out. For one, they fear for their lives even if they walk out. Will the police protect them forever, even if they come to their rescue once? Apart from the fact that their confidence is at such a low from their abuse.


  16. Tcha! If only women knew this simple trick, there would be no more rapes! All one has to do is ‘cross the legs’ and pout…and any rapist will beat a hasty retreat. Well done Venky! Your insight into an Indian marriage is astonishing! Really the mind boggles. For e.g. this particular detail is a gem – that a man who can kill unborn/new born babies with impunity, who behaves like a rabid bloodhound with his wife..somehow finds the tenderness to ‘go crawling to her for sex’. Wow. Errmmm…I am assuming you just celebrated your eigth birthday?


  17. The problem with this writer is that he thinks all women in this world are liberal, they have jobs, they know karate, their families support them and their husbands are meek mice who will not try to open up their legs once they cross them shut.
    He thinks that by saying this, he will enforce that fact that all women who are abused or forced to abort are stupid.
    //because Indian women do not like sex anyway// – I do not think he is trying to emphasise this. Quite the opposite. He thinks Indian women are sex starved who cannot walk out of a broken and abusive marriage because they can’t control the urge.
    I feel sad such people have the ability to write.
    p.s. And they have closed the comments on the article. 🙂


  18. You have written just what was at the tip of my fingers.

    This kind of short sightedness is rather commonplace for Indian journalists, who live in a world of their own. I remember that the day after that Gurgaon rape happened, a woman in South Delhi battered her maid servant to death. A homicide case was registered at the local police station, but ironically, the media was so occupied with the rape that it didn’t see the death of a maid as newsworthy. After all, who cares about poor people? Journalists and other people in the literati/media circles in urban India are in a class of their own. Their world is the only world, more real than the world outside their purview.

    Most people here are outraged because they can understand and emphatise with the women in abusive circumstance. Mr. Venky Vembu can’t. Hence, his insensitive and utterly distasteful twaddle.

    @ biwo
    The majority of humans, of all genders, ethnic groups and social class aren’t able to emphatise with situations or people outside their experience or observational framework. Social Psychology 101. Someone who never had a backache doesn’t understand how a painful and persistent backache can make a person depressed, irritable and even suicidal. Urban middle class professionals don’t understand the plight of a drought ridden sugarcane farmer. It is human nature.


    • Hey Atheist Indian. Stop talking down to fellow commenters and stop making statements that apply to all humanity.

      If middle-class people cannot empathise with drought-afflicted farmers, then why did P Sainath devote an entire book to rural poverty?

      Why did Amartya Sen spend his lifetime researching poverty and famine?

      Why did the audience tear up when the women told their stories on Satyamev Jayate?

      Why do I devote Sundays at an animal shelter? I cannot possibly empathise with animal suffering since I cannot experience it, according to you.

      You must be a little cynical to really believe that people cannot empathise with something outside the reality of their lived experiences.

      Our common humanity allows us to feel other people’s pain, if we allow ourselves to feel it. That’s what makes us human.


      • I said, the majority of humans. The majority, not everyone without an exception. The majority of Indian cultures are feudal. Some are tribal.

        The journalist in this situation was too emotionally low spectrum to understand an abused woman’s perspective and hence his twaddle. He wasn’t particularly sexist, but just an insensitive ignoramus who had no clue that women who don’t have reproductive rights are unlikely have the luxury of consent, the examples of Cambodian wives notwithstanding.

        I simply voiced my opinions. I wasn’t talking down anyone. This is what comments are for, to discuss our opinions. Is it so hard to be courteous to each other, without jumping the gun everytime?


        • “The majority of humans, of all genders, ethnic groups and social class aren’t able to emphatise with situations or people outside their experience or observational framework. Social Psychology 101.”

          That wasn’t very “courteously” put, was it?

          My grouse with your comment is that most research in psychology does not lean towards concluding that most of humanity has an inability to empathise with that which is “outside their experience or observational framework”.

          Can you cite research to support that statement? Psychology is a vast academic discipline and I cannot recall any study that conclusively established what you claim. Social psychology, in particular, studies how human behavior is influenced by the presence of other people. It studies how our mental states are affected by our immediate social situations.

          So I’m not sure how social psychology is pertinent to the discussion at hand. The writer seems to have an empathy deficit, and that is independent of larger social dynamics that he is influenced by.

          In case you’re referencing recently conducted research to support your argument, then I’d much appreciate a link.


        • “That wasn’t very “courteously” put, was it?”
          Maybe a bit blunt, but no discourtesy meant or implied. If I were to get as defensive, I could take similar offence at you telling me what psychology is, considering my qualifications in the field.

          Not to sound condescending or anything, but that definition of social psychology is way too simplistic. It is akin to saying, “Physics is a study of the natural world”. A considerable aspect of social psychology deals with our experiences and observations that determines how people evaluate the social world. To understand what I am talking about, you can refer to Byrne’s ‘Social Psychology’, 10th Ed. This is a classic text for psychologists interested in the field. The chapter is titled ‘Evaluating the Social World’.

          The writer’s inability to see the abusive woman’s perspective is most likely because of his limited social framework. He was probably used to independant women or maybe, a matriarchal culture where women had a choice, so woman in relationships without sexual consent were alien to his cognitive framework. Short sighted and unemphatic perhaps, malice not.


  19. I think the author must be reincarnated as a typical ‘Indian bahu’ in his next life.Then only he will understand the plight of these women.If the women had the chance to ‘cross ‘ their legs and say NO nothing of this would have ever happened.The sad truth is that in India, most of the women dont own their bodies it is seen as the property of the husband.I think sometimes sex is the only chance these women can get close to their husbands or make him listen to something..so that the cycle continues…


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  21. In addition to numerous Il’s we tolerate int he name of CULTURE and SANSKAR we seen to add to the list lack of medical ethics!!!
    Doctor -patient confidentiality seems to be non-existent. bluntly i’d say we should at the very least be able to strip the doctors who don’t maintain ethics of their medical degree… no practice , no money . It’s not like we lack doctors, we churn them out in the thousands.
    There are certain professions where some people should not be allowed to enter into, those with less than normal morals. sigghhh who listens to me 🙂


  22. Just wanted to alert you that FirstPost has removed that insulting piece (which, the last time I checked, carried two updates in which the author tried to weasel out of the junk he had written).

    They have issued an apology. Here.


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