BENGALURU: Extra- and pre-marital affairs, alcohol and substance abuse and dowry harassment are the leading triggers of marital discord, according to a state-government-recognised family counselling centre.
Over half the cases registered with Parihar fall under these categories. Data indicates that the number of dowry harassment cases are dropping. Cases arising due to alcohol and substance abuse, however, have remained constant.
The number cases of women cheating on their husbands is on the rise. “The family values are being forgotten and etiquette is vanishing,” says Rani Shetty, director, Vanitha Sahayavani, a women’s helpline run by the centre.
She recalls a case where a woman was having an affair with her husband’s friend. During counselling it was found that she saw this as taking revenge on her husband, who was cheating on her too.
She mentions another case in which seven men were being harassed by a woman. The last victim’s wife, a bank employee, finally managed to trace all her conversations and emails. Now, the husband and wife are living happily.
In another incident, a politician’s wife sought the centre’s intervention as her husband was in a relationship with a divorcee, an old friend he met at a birthday party.
Pre-marital Spark Can Kindle Discord
Many affairs result from attractions or relationships from before the marriage. Sometimes lovers are separated due to family pressure and coerced into marrying someone else.
“Hence counselling before marriage may save couples – and children born of such marriages – much trouble. Otherwise, children are exposed to fights and tension at home, making their childhood traumatic and vulnerable to harassment and crime,” says Saraswathi B S, a senior counsellor at Parihar.
Sometimes, the affair starts at home. Eighteen-year-old Ladli’s mother would send her out of the house on the pretext of grocery shopping whenever Ladli’s husband visited. “The girl was in tears and we had tough time counselling the family,” the counsellors say.
Whether the couple is reunited or not depends on them, says Rani. “It makes sense if at least one of them is interested,” she says.
Dowry and Alcohol Abuse
From 214 cases of dowry harassment in 2013, the number has come down to 174 this year. “Although people are more aware that dowry harassment is a crime, it is still prevalent in urban slums and a few other communities,” says Iqbal Ahmed, another senior counsellor at the centre. “Many poor and middle class families are becoming victims of alcohol and substance abuse. “Many young ladies are drawn into the habit, and their families suffer.”