Have you heard about the case that shook Quebec’s justice system last week? A Tamil man murdered his wife back 2012. Yes okay, that happens often (more than we’d like to think of). However, does it happen often that the murderer gets to walk away without a trial? Ah ha! I’ve got your attention now, eh! Due to the Jordan ruling, the case stayed because it took too long to go to trial. Thankfully, after all the outrage, it was decided that he would remain detained until his next review hearing since he appealed to being deported. I say remain detained because he almost got to go live happily ever after with his brother. His brother; who thinks he did nothing wrong. Don’t strain your throat screaming at the screen, I’ve done it enough for all of us. What’s a dead woman to do when your family, even if it’s just your in-laws, doesn’t believe that your abuser did anything wrong?
Let’s start from the beginning. Anuja Baskaran (the victim) and her husband married back April 2011. The first recorded incident of physical abuse happened within 8 months. An issue over a marriage document led the man to assault Anuja. He hit her several times, pushed her onto the floor and dragged her around in her parents’ basement. The second incident occurred just a few weeks later. For unknown reasons, he grabbed Anuja by her hair and punched her multiple times. He was arrested both times but this time was released with conditions, including a restraining order. Four months following the second incident, he decided to violate his restraining order by returning to Anuja’s parents’ house. A fight erupted and the cops were called again. He was arrested, but not before her father pleaded with the cops to let him go. Anuja’s father claimed he was “a good guy”. Luckily, it wasn’t his call to make. The husband was arrested and this time did some jail time (he pleaded guilty). Following her husband’s arrest, Anuja found herself living in a shelter home for which the reasons are unclear. On June 28, 2012, the man appeared in court where, surprisingly, Anuja asked to retract her complaints against her husband. The Crown decided to release him with several conditions again, one of them was to take an anger management class and another was not to possess a knife. Fast forward to August, cops found Anuja’s dead body. The cause of her death: he slit her throat.
Now that you have all this information, going back to the murderer’s brother’s statement, do you believe that this man did nothing wrong? The victim’s father, thought he was a “good guy” despite witnessing his daughter getting physically abused. The criminal’s brother said “According to my knowledge, he did not do anything wrong.”. To his somewhat reluctant defense, he did reply “No.” when asked if he thought courts in Canada were wrong to convict his brother of domestic violence offences. Here’s an extra scoop of delight, the abuser’s sister-in-law said that Anuja was the one causing the problems because she kept calling the cops. Oh my god, of course! What a monster she must have been to call an authority figure when she was getting pummeled in the face and no one around her was doing anything. Such a comment coming from a woman troubles me to the core. I can give her the benefit of the doubt and say that she was possibly forced to say that in court. However, the truth of the matter is that this is the answer that many Tamil men and women would have given behind closed doors. We’ve all either experienced it, heard about this happening to someone or have seen it happen. In many families, physically and/or verbally abusing women has been normalized. I have sit through conversations between family members where some even said that it’s part of the culture. So, let’s just be clear once and for all; physically assaulting someone because they don’t agree with you, don’t do what you ask of them or even raise their voice is NOT part of Tamil culture. We are so much better than that. It’s unbelievably handicapping women to be the quiet, submissive, “guest like” person in their own homes. Also, it’s insulting to the Tamil men who respect the women in their life (and there are so many of them) that many people think they cannot hold their ground without using their fists. The issue is that a lot of us were raised that way. Whether it was a movie showing it to us or our mothers teaching it to us, many were thought to not speak up when something was wrong, where a man is concerned. Time after time I’ve heard someone saying “Oh well she talks too much, that’s why her husband hits her. Good for her, it’ll teach her to keep quiet” or “She doesn’t cook or clean good enough so it’s normal that he’s always yelling at her.” In Anuja’s case, she died. Death is so much more severe, is it not? Yet, someone out there thinks it’s normal.
I mentioned earlier that the victim’s father pleaded with the cops during one of the incidents saying that the accused is a good guy. As someone who raised this woman, he watched her get punched and dragged by her hair yet decided to defend the person who did those things. I have no doubt that had this been a stranger, the father would have destroyed this man. But because there’s a sacred marriage necklace on her neck and a signed government paper, he decided that it made sense to defend a wife beater. I’m sure he regrets that decision now considering the outcome. We all know that our parents play a part in our marriage. Whether we like it or not, their opinions come spewing out of their mouth. They are the first people in our lives who tells us how much they love us and how they’ll protect us. This was the time to protect your child. When someone is violent towards your daughter, you need to step in. It doesn’t matter what others will say, it doesn’t matter how you were brought up, it doesn’t matter who’s right or wrong, when someone physically assaults your child, you protect them.
I understand that many similar cases don’t end in death but it’s no reason not to address it. I also understand that an abundance of Tamil men don’t fit this mold of egoistic abuser but wouldn’t it be helpful if they spoke up? In this case, what a progressive step it would have been if the brother and his wife would have acknowledged that Anuja’s death was undeserved or at least if they had shown some remorse. Something that the murderer did not show, not one bit. He can actually be seen smirking in most of the pictures that have come out. So again, I am well aware that not every Tamil men are this way and not every Tamil women defend such behaviour. However, we do have a long way to go in terms of denouncing conjugal violence and abolishing this misconception that a man hitting his wife is part of our culture.