“He viciously pummelling me at night, covering my lips. I couldn’t even scream out loud. They forced me to go hungry because I refused to sell the riches from my marriage. When my father confronted them about the harassments, they (in-laws) attacked him, breaking his leg and rib bone,” Kochi resident Elizabeth* (name changed on request) sobbed hysterically as she told the reporters about her three-month nightmare at her in-laws’ house. The abuse endured by the 31-year-old comes at a time when the state has been shaken by many dowry-related fatalities. The woman has accused the police of being slow to act even after she filed a complaint.
Elizabeth’s suffering at the hands of Jipson Peter, a 31-year-old software developer from Kochi, was made public when the woman’s relatives and acquaintances organized an action council demanding justice. According to the family, even days after submitting a complaint about the dowry harassment, the police took no action. The action council directly filed a complaint with the Kochi Deputy Commissioner of Police on Thursday (DCP).
This April, Elizabeth, a teacher, married Jipson, a Pachalam native who works at Technopark in Thiruvananthapuram. Elizabeth claims that Jipson and his family began harassing and tormenting her a few days into her marriage, demanding more money and gold. Her relatives had given her 50 sovereigns of gold during her wedding and had also stated that she would inherit half of the family’s riches.
“Three days into the marriage, Jipson and his mother began pressuring me to ask my family for money. He also wanted to sell my gold in order to get an apartment. I kept repeating no, and he began to threaten me. The harassment was initially verbal. He used to curse at me and threaten to lock me in the room if I didn’t stop. Later, he began pounding me black and blue. He thrashed me in the abdomen and back at night, closing my mouth and thrashing me. “I couldn’t even cry,” Elizabeth tells the media.
Elizabeth says she took her phone several times in the last three months to call the police because she couldn’t handle the assaults any further. She does, however, claim that Jipson and others in the family used to threaten her. “He would summon the Assistant Vicar of St Joseph Church in Thevara, Fr Nibin Kuriakose, to console me. “And the priest used to tell me that I couldn’t go back to my own home because I’d be a ‘burden for my family,’ that I had to stay with Jipson, and so on,” she adds.
Elizabeth was refused meals by her family for an entire day two weeks ago. “Last night, I went to get some stuff to eat. Jipson and his family threw me out of the house at midnight as punishment. Jipson also called Fr Nibin that day, just as I was ready to call the cops. My father also arrived, and at his request, Jipson let me enter the house at night and dropped me off at my house the next day,” Elizabeth recalls.
However, when Elizabeth’s father saw Jipson at his home last Saturday to interrogate him about the torture and harassment, he allegedly assaulted her father. “He threw me to the ground. My skull was wounded because of the uneven terrain. His father then stamped on my leg. I recall hearing a sound before losing consciousness. Elizabeth’s father told Marunadan Malayali, “I could feel them hitting my chest and face.”
According to the family, Jipson was charged with assaulting Elizabeth’s father by the Ernakulam North Police. The women’s cell at the police station, on the other hand, did nothing about the harassment she was subjected to. “When I submitted a complaint, they assured me that they would provide me and Jipson with counselling. His relative is a police officer, and we believe that is why they did not take action,” Elizabeth claims. Meanwhile, Elizabeth’s testimony was obtained after the action council filed a complaint with the Kochi DCP on Thursday. However, a case has yet to be filed, she says.
In an interview with the media, Elizabeth stated that she is disclosing her ordeal so that other women do not face similar abuse at the hands of Jipson. “He was previously married. That woman abandoned him due to similar suffering, but we were unaware of this. He is considering remarrying. “I don’t want anyone else to go through what I went through,” Elizabeth adds, adding that she will seek legal separation.