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 21st century, 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 further stops 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.
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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 neutral and 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.