DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AGAINST MEN. A TABOO? By Malvika Singhal

When a woman is beaten, threatened,
molested, harassed physically or emotionally everybody listens. She is given
all the sympathy and support. She is backed by both the society and the
judicial system. Indeed, the violence against women is so brutal and shameful
that it is not only a slap on women’s dignity but also crushes her soul. Sometimes
it affects the minds of the victims so much that they prefer ending their lives
than living with continuous fear of getting beaten, insulted or even raped by
their own family members. Thus, over the years the society has become more
sensitive toward violence against women, especially for violence at home, a
place where she is entitled to feel safe and loved. Violence against women have
been given serious thoughts and serious actions are taken against it both from
the social and the legal aspect. But what if a man claims that he has been
harassed and molested at his home. What is the first thought that comes to our
minds?Is he a liar? How can he be so weak and sensitive? And the list of
questions does not stop. The society has sculpted the character of women and
men both. Where the former is expected to be weak, sensitive, emotional,
physically attractive and the latter is expected to be bold, stoic, physically
and emotionally strong, this has led to the creation of an image of a man who
does not feel pain or is not weak and hence, does not allow any man to feel or
go through it. Even if they are suffering, they decide to stay quiet in order
to match with character sculpted by the society or to say preventing their masculinity
from getting tainted.

 Domestic violence or intimate partner violence
(IPV) is the abuse sexually, physically or emotionally between people who are
in an intimate relationship. It is generally done by the partner who is more
dominating and aggressive irrespective of the gender. The reasons which give
rise to domestic violence on any of the genders may include societal pressures,
family issues, stress, or anger. It induces the fear in the mind of the one
getting dominated and establishes control by the one dominating. For women it
is mostly because they are considered weak and vulnerable and should stick to
certain roles they have in the society and if they don’t, they become the
victims of such abuse. The patriarchal structure has always been in the power
and has oppressed women since ages and now in the 21stcentury, this
very own structure is worsening the plight of the men especially when they are
the victims of the domestic violence. The society doesn’t recognise them as the
victims which furtherstops men to report the abuse which statistically reduces
the number of cases against men of domestic violence against the number of
cases reported by women of similar abuse. What we cannot see is what we cannot
believe since the number of cases reported by men of domestic violence is so
less almost nil in most of the countries, the problem remains unnoticed and
unimportant so much so as if it doesn’t even exist.Men continue to suffer in
silence and feel helpless.They cannot look for support and help from anywhere.
They have to go through hell every day and still pretend that everything is
okay.

Resources and services available to men
seeking help with domestic violence are less than what is available to women. They
cannot even knock the doors of the judicial authorities because there are no legal
provisions that deal domestic violence against men. In India before 2006 the
cases of domestic violence against women were to rise even though more than
half of the women did not report the abuse. Renuka Chaudhary, former Union
Minister for Women and Child Development, stated in 2006 that around 70% of
women in India are victims of domestic violence. Therefore, a bill for the
protection of women against the domestic violence from her husband or male
live-in partner or their respective family members was brought into force on 26
October 2006 named as The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005.
This act is only for the benefit of the women and not the men, many scholars
and men’s organisations have criticized the act, saying it might be used
inappropriately by women when unfavourable situations occur. Also, the act should
be made gender neutral as men also suffer emotional, verbal, mental violence by
their female counterparts if not always physical. The persistent battered
women’s movement has led the society to become blind towards the condition of
suffering men.

 The position of men as victim is same
throughout the world and not just in India, in England and Wales, supplementary
to study of British Crime Survey, reported 6.6 million incidents of IPV in past
12 months compared to 987,000 found in the crime branch survey.  Out of these 6.6 million incidents 3025
million involved male victims, with 1 million resulting in serious injuries. In
2010-2011 27% of women who experienced IPV reported it and only 10% of men did so.
Suzzane K. Steinmetz wrote an article for U.S National Family Violence Survey
in 1977 coined the term correlative to “battered wife syndrome” that is
“battered husband syndrome”. According to the survey 47% male perpetrated
compared to 43% women perpetrators of IPV. 39% husbands have thrown objects,
31% wives have done likewise. While 20% husbands have hit their partners, 20% wives
have done the same. IPV roughly reciprocal between husband and wife with
similar level of intensity. The articles suggested that “women are likely to
select physical conflict to resolve marital conflict as men and women both have
potential to commit acts of violence and do carry out these acts in
unfavourable situations”. According to the recent data from the U.S, Canada and
U.K for year 2010-2012 the rates of female perpetrated violence is more than
male perpetrated violence. The reason of such higher rates is women are likely
the first to start the acts of physical aggression than men.

In India also it was found through
various studies that 52.4% men experienced gender -based violence. 51.6% went
through emotional violence, 6% physical violence and 0.4 % sexual violence. The
situation of men in such circumstances are same as of women. Some men collect
the courage to report it while most of them don’t. physical violence a be seen
and thus there are chances of remedy but how one can show mental or emotional
violence and its impact on the minds of the person. Thus, some men find it easy
to end their lives than living with everyday torture. Data shows that number of
suicides in India are committed by men more than women one of the reasons being
domestic violence among other reasons.

A serious attention is required to be
given towards domestic violence against men in the society. especially when we
as a society in 21st century talk about gender equality in all
spheres be it political, economic or social. With changes in culture, degree of
freedom in the households, broadness of mindsets, creation of new laws and acts
the position of women in today’s society has changed adversely than what it was
earlier. These changes have not only empowered women but also handed a tool for
some women to take revenge or do as they like when we talk about matters like
domestic violence or dowry or sexual violence. We forget that today,men too are
in a vulnerable state because neither the society nor the legal system is there
to support them. However, with rising protest by various Men’s Organisations against
the gender biased laws, legal system is trying to amend laws to make them gender
neutraland anti-men. This will allow men to find relief in hour of torture and
also fulfil the very aim of any legal system that is justice for all
irrespective of the gender. As society also we need to change our mindset and
talk about domestic violence against men more openly so that a taboo that “men
doesn’t feel pain” and “men as victims of domestic violence” can end.

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