xviii 1 Miradevi is a mother of four children. Her husband is extremely violent and besides physical aggression, he also subjects her to a great amount of mental stress and torture. “He undresses publicly and speaks openly about our conjugal relations at his workplace and even in the market. There are no traces of shame left in him and he has also caused me a lot of beizzati (disrepute or dishonour),” narrated Miradevi. She approached a state forum – the police station – for the first time after ten years of her marriage. It was at the insistence of her neighbours, who saw that she had been beaten violently by her husband. When several police complaints did not improve her husband’s ways, Miradevi heeded the advice of the police and filed a suit in the local tehsil court under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code of 1973. 1 She received an order directing her husband to pay a monthly maintenance of Rs. 4,000 (approx. $58) to her and the children. Since this amount was not enough to cover the expenses for food, clothing, and schooling, Miradevi and her children continue to live with her husband. However, confronting the situation through police action and court processes has made Miradevi stronger. She knows now that she has the support of the state authorities. Her act of seeking help with the state machinery also caught the attention of her husband’s employer, who now informs Miradevi about the transfer of her husband’s monthly salary to his account. Today, Miradevi boldly keeps a close watch on how her husband spends his salary. She even accompanies him to the bank when he goes to encash it. She takes a share of his salary to pay the bills and the children’s school fees. “Otherwise, he would just spend all the money on alcohol, like he did earlier,” she says. A certified copy of the court order is kept safe by Miradevi at her parents’ home. She knows she will enforce it if the situation gets out of hand. At the time of the interview, it had been three years since the court case. By invoking the support of state authorities in a domestic dispute, Miradevi has defied social norms of privacy that often tend to reinforce patriarchal notions of power. But she did so in a situation of distress and believes that she has grown stronger as a result. 2