I had two new experiences yesterday – I’ll tell you about the job I had that left me unhappy that I couldn’t help more.
We arrived at the same time as the police to find an Indian woman crying on her bed. We had been sent round to the house because she was supposedly threatening to jump from a window and there were signs of a disturbance all around the bedroom. The woman herself wasn’t seriously physically harmed although she had a few scratches to one of her wrists, an obvious sign of attempted self harm.
She was laying face down on the bed sobbing uncontrollably, her husband told us that he had ‘done something wrong’ and that she had gotten upset over it.
She was obviously in no fit state to remain at home but it took a long twenty minutes to persuade her to make a move down to the ambulance where we could have a private chat with her.
Her story was simple, yet one I haven’t come across before.
Her marriage had been ‘arranged’, she had met the man who was to be her husband just four months before they married. The pair of them lived in a house with her husbands mother and sister. The husband was apparently seeing other women on the side and his mother had told our patient that this was ‘normal’ in England. Our patient told me, between sobs, that her mother in law and sister in law both bullied her.
Her only family was out in India, and today, when she had told her father about her troubles he had started crying. This is what had sent her into such a distressed state. She was distressed because she had made her family unhappy.
My only choice was to offer her a trip to hospital so that they could clean and dress her minor wounds. The police officer however could offer more, she took my patient’s mobile phone number and promised that she would pass that number on to the groups that deal with situations like this. All I could do was get her out of the house for a couple of hours so that she could collect herself and start thinking about what she could do next. As I often feel in such cases I wished that there was more I could do for her.
I would imagine that due to the ethnic make-up of East London there are quite a few arranged marriages, I’m always suspicious about the marriages where a forty year old man is married to a twenty six year old female. While I’m not completely against the idea of arranged marriages, there does need to be specialist support for those people who are quite obviously powerless in the relationship.
Arranged marriages should not be about power over a woman being given to a man.
I’m hoping that the woman that we left in the A&E department will be able to get the support she needs, and I hope that the short period of time I knew her will be a turning point for her.