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THE SILENT TRIBULATION: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AGAINST MEN

The moment I type “violence against” in the search tab on Google, I get plenty of options but none of them ending with “men”.

Abstract

The moment I type “violence against” in the search tab on Google, I get plenty of options but none of them ending with “men”.

“A man isn’t expected to cry like a girl!” Does that mean, are emotions only meant to be associated with women? “Grow up and be a man!” said another man. These phraseologies are familiar to all of us but what amount of effort have we made to understand the silent tribulations of a man? How many of us have opened up not just the statute books but also our minds? Ponder!

I have tried to comprehend every ounce of information that I have received but, something which bothers me is the fact that men are generally portrayed as being strong; however, their vulnerability goes untalked about. Well, in my opinion, a man with emotions has the power to conquer not just the world but rule the hearts!

This paper discusses about the concept of Domestic violence as is understood widely, touches the aspect of domestic violence suffered by men and analyses various instances and case studies of the same.

Meaning of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is any behavior whose purpose is to gain power, control and assert dominance over a spouse, partner or intimate family member. Violence goes way beyond physical harm and its branches extend to include sexual abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, economic abuse, etc. In India, we have a specific legislation entitled “Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005”defining domestic violence under its Section 3 as:

 “any act, omission or commission or conduct of the respondent shall constitute domestic violence in case it:

  • harms or injures or endangers the health, safety, life, limb or well-being, whether mental or physical, of the aggrieved person or tends to do so and includes causing physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal and emotional abuse and economic abuse; or
  • harasses, harms, injures or endangers the aggrieved person with a view to coerce her or any other person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any dowry or other property or valuable security; or
  • has the effect of threatening the aggrieved person or any person related to her by any conduct mentioned in clause (a) or clause (b); or
  • otherwise injures or causes harm, whether physical or mental, to the aggrieved person.”

The matter of concern is that we have a separate legislation that brings “domestic violence against women” within its umbrella ambit but unfortunately, we have none for men. Having two separate statutes would do no good to us but only increase the burden of memorizing sections. Does it serve the purpose? Certainly, it doesn’t! Simply a unified statute that protects the interests of men and women equally will make a great difference in this regard.

Domestic Violence Against Men

Domestic violence against men deals with domestic violence experienced by men in cohabitation or institution of marriage. For society, it is a hard pill to swallow that even men suffer domestic violence in domestic setting which acts as a hindrance to men reporting their situation and thus, determining the rate of intimate partner violence (IPV) against males becomes a hard nut to chew. You know, what is even worse- men who report domestic violence often face social stigma regarding their perceived lack of machismo and other denigrations of their masculinity. Male victims of IPV may face socio-cultural issues such as judgment by male peers, fear of coming out as LGBTQ, or having their masculinity questioned.

Research has shown that women who assault their male partners are more likely to avoid arrest than men who assault their female partners, due to the fact that female perpetrators of IPV tend to be viewed by law enforcement agencies and the courts as victims. As such, some men fear that if they do report to the police, they will be assumed to be the abuser, and placed under arrest.

A UK government survey indicated that 9% of males had experienced some form of partner abuse, which amounts to around 1.4 million men. This includes stalking, physical violence and sexual assault. Indeed, a seminal US study found that male IPV victims are often slapped, kicked, punched, grabbed or choked by their partners. A research paper by Dr. Elizabeth Bates from the University of Cumbria found that the overarching experience of male IPV victims was that “no one would ever believe me.” Furthermore, men don’t leave abuse relationships because of umpteen reasons like feeling ashamed of themselves, lack of resources, a sense of others disbelieving your statement, constant state of denial of such abuse, the interests of your children are placed at higher footing for you, etc.

The conclusion of a research conducted in Nai Abaadi Chaakra, Saddar, Rawalpindi had highlighted that men are also victims of violence at different social levels. Due to a popular perception of men being the “perpetrators” and women being the “victims” of violence, men are neglected as being true subjects of domestic violence.

There are also instances from African societies like Rubaare Town Council of Ntungamo District Limpopo Province, etc. where research indicated that men continued to suffer physical, mental, economic and psychological abuses without getting any social support and society recognition and they preferred to be in the closet.

Conclusion

The above fact findings and case studies are just the tip of the iceberg. There are numerous cases of domestic violence that go unreported because of the stigma attached with men in society; the labels and gender roles went way beyond and they categorized human emotions as “male” and “female” emotions. The need of the hour is not to have two distinct legislations governing two different genders. Instead, there is a requirement of sensitizing the society first so that they understand that, emotions are to every human being, regardless of gender. Moreover, a consolidated code that aims to alleviate domestic violence as a whole, should be construed by policy makers.

References-

  • India, Parliament in the Fifty-sixth Year of the Republic of India, Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (Act. No. 43 OF 2005)
  • “Does the Criminal Justice System Treat Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Offenders Leniently?” by Richard B. Felson; Paul-Philippe Pare, available at: https://richardfelson.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/does-cj-treat-leniently.pdf
  • https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/talking-about-men/201911/domestic-violence-against-men-no-laughing-matter
  • https://www.helpguide.org/articles/abuse/help-for-men-who-are-being-abused.htm
  • https://www.researchgate.net/publication/234024124_VIOLENCE_AGAINST_MEN_A_CASE_STUDY_OF_NAIABAADICHAAKRA_RAWALPINDI
  • https://www.researchgate.net/publication/340136170_EXPLORING_DOMESTIC_VIOLENCE_EXPERIENCE_FROM_THE_PERSPECTIVE_OF_ABUSED_MEN_IN_RUBAARE_TOWN_COUNCIL_NTUNGAMO_DISTRICT
  • https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3435840

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