The increasing acts of violence against women could be a result of gender conditioning, said mental health experts.
Gender conditioning refers to the way society expects men or women to behave. “The patriarchal nature of society is such that women are expected to be tolerant and trusting towards their partner. Men, being physically more powerful, beat women and expect them not to retaliate,” said Dr Shubhangi Parkar, head of psychiatry department at KEM Hospital, Parel.
On Monday, Vijay Sangelkar brutally slashed Sonal Lapashiya’s face, mistaking her for his wife. Sanglekar told the police that he had come to Mumbai to kill his wife.
According to Prakash Chandran, a Kochi- based counsellor, men look at violence as a weapon to stop women from disagreeing with them. “Even though our society is moving towards becoming a largely literate one, we are lagging in character development,” said Chandran.
Behaviour experts said that, as a society, we have failed to provide adequate gender education and sensitisation to men. “Hence when a woman strives to do what she wants to do, men find it as an affront to their ‘manhood’. And unfortunately, our society emphasises that in order to reclaim your manhood you need to fight for it,” said Jeevan D’Cunha, counselling psychologist from a Mumbai-based hospital.
Doctors said that such cases could not be studied in isolation as marital discord often leads to extreme stress, anxiety, depression which leads to aggressive behaviour. Parkar pointed out that the very fact that the man did not even confirm that the woman was his wife, explains the nature of anger against her.
“Those who are depressed can suddenly turn aggressive. We had a case when a husband tried assaulting a dog as he related the barking to his wife’s behaviour,” said counsellor Dr Pradnya Ajinkya.