DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AGAINST MEN: UNCOVERING THE MYTH

   ABSTRACT

“Stop crying like a girl!”
“Pink?! That’s a girl’s color! Are you gay?”
“Cried during a movie? Oh, you are so gay!”
“You want to pursue Arts!? That’s a girl’s stream! Boys only pursue Commerce or Science![1] Classic lines prevalent since a very long time and each one of us have heard these while growing up and even now here gender does not matter. Among them all every boy’s favorite line is “real men don’t feel pain” which comes with a disclaimer “don’t try this at home” because real men do feel pain. They cry, they laugh and also feel hurt.

Both men and women suffer from various crimes around the world including domestic violence. The subject of domestic violence against men has not garnered as much attention as that of domestic violence against women especially in country like India where patriarchy rules. When someone talks about domestic violence we say “what did she do to deserve a man like him” it always comes down to women as a victim and never cross our mind that even men can be subjected to cruelty by women.

One out of six men is victim of domestic violence. Even though men are considered epitome of power and only they can use force on others, rest are women who are supposed to sit in home wearing bangles as women can never use force.   Similarly men who are victim of violence especially by a woman are called ‘women’ or ‘sissy’. Either way if there is a man-to-man ruckus both the men are stud and if the same ruckus is women-to-man or vice versa men are called ‘poor little girls’ and women are called ‘sherni’. That’s the duplicity of society we live in, where the whole world is supporting women and women are abusing all these power and protection. There is an urgent need of law for protection of men who are victim of violence as these are not even recognized by society let alone law.

 Keywords- domestic violence, gender based violence, stigma, men, physical abuse.

INTRODUCTION

Shivam was perceived as strong man, who carried a hidden burden of physical abuse by his wife, Radhika. Her public life was all charming but behind closed door she would beat him. Shivam fearing societal judgment just suffered in silence while concealing his wounds.

One day, Radhika’s rage knew no bounds, leaving Shivam completely thrashed. After realizing that he couldn’t endure all of it alone, he sought help from a friend and with support he broke free from the toxic cycle.

This was just one story of how men endure violence fearing societal judgment and pressures from their family. Domestic violence is a global issue. It is not limited to women only, this stereotypical society can never believe that women can be violent and men can be victims too. It’s prime time that our society learns “not every man is tyrant, not every woman is poor.”

Not only physical harm but domestic violence also includes verbal, psychological and sexual abuse. There are several men who are enduring this pain all by themselves without anyone knowing till this date. They stay silent because they are scared of being considered as an outcast or become a part of joke between their own friends and colleagues eventually one day when they cannot take it anymore they die. As they believe it is better to die than live in shame.

Furthermore, in every aspect of law, we see there is no provision that deals with men who are victim of domestic violence. Even the Domestic Violence Act of 2005 describe “as an act to only provide effective protection only to women where women are victims of violence in family matters and incidental cases.”[2]Even though pain suffered by both men and women are similar this act only protects women neglecting the sufferance of men in the same household matters as well as incidental matters.

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

This research paper is based on contemporary events of crime that men face around the world and domestic violence being a major concern as it is rarely talked about. For better understanding as to why domestic violence against men is so undervalued, one have to know the status of men in our society in past and present times. The facts in this research paper are taken from secondary sources like newspaper, journals and websites. The secondary sources provided a thorough review of crimes that are taking place against men in our society.

REVIEW OF LITERATURE

Kimmel M. in his book on ‘Male Victims of Domestic Violence’ said that domestic violence is one of the major problems and men also suffer from domestic violence at the hands of their wives or intimate partners[3]. Domestic abuse against men has gained a lot of attention from groups, people, and campaigners in recent years as we witnessed high profile case of Hollywood actor Johnny Depp, who was victim of domestic violence it helped many other men raise their voices as they are not alone in this fight.

It’s still a question that why can’t society believe men can be victim of domestic violence; it’s not like any person would lie about such a critical topic. It is rather easy to believe when a women says that she’s a victim of domestic violence. The answer to this is status of men in our society men are beasts while women are fragile flower.  

The worst part is that crimes against men not only include domestic violence, there are numerous other crimes as well. In some part of India man with good income is abducted and forced to marry someone he has not ever met. A similar occurrence involving a Bihari engineer made national news a few years ago. Then, 29-year-old Vinod Kumar, a junior manager at the Bokaro Steel Plant, was beaten and made to marry a Patna lady who lived in the Pandarak neighborhood.

Now, when men go to complain about the same they get false charges of rape, dowry, and cruelty in return. This not only affects an individual but also his entire family ends up in jail. There are several incidents where police does not register cases of men as they are busy sympathizing with women and hence they send away people who came to register case.

Reason why cases go unregistered when victims are male

There are several reasons for which men often suppress pain they face maybe because they are afraid of being judged by others or maybe because they are scared of the consequences that will occur as result of complaint. Some of the reasons are mentioned here.

Stereotype against men- according to our society men has the duty of protecting women as men are the epitome of power. They don’t cry they are expected to be strong, aggressive and bold. This is the reason why men can’t even express their emotion let alone crying. If they cry or feel powerless they are no longer men they are little girls who can’t even control their feelings and people around him.

Fear of fake cases- A 22 year old women was arrested for allegedly falsely accusing two men of gang-raping her and extorting from them Rs. 2 lakhs for withdrawing her complaint[4]. This is just an example of why men do not register case against women. Generally men are slapped with fake rape cases when they tell women about their intention to complain and since Indian law protects women very closely men have no chance of standing against women unless they are rich and powerful enough.

Societal pressure- Our society plays a very important role in nurturing gender bias law since a child is born resulting into discrimination against a particular gender. These societal pressures then moves to families and to protect dignity of their family one stay silent.

Denial- It is believed that domestic violence can only happen to a woman and women can never do such heinous acts. So people never really talk about it. As a result countless cases of violence against men remain hidden to such extent that even family members are unaware.

Some forms of violence against men

Domestic violence not only includes physical abuse but it also includes abuse like emotional, verbal, sexual, etc. Here are some forms of violence against men.

Physical abuse when male partners suffer punches, hitting from objects, slaps from their spouses. It might also include use of weapon or forced sleep deprivation. Physical abuses generally occur in isolation.

Emotional abuse includes demanding to separate from his parents and family. Restrict to meet his friends and family members.

Verbal abuse includes always yelling, criticizing and using derogatory name of her partner with intention to hurt.

Sexual abuse involves sexual intercourse without consent and threatening to file cases of rape and molestation after consensual sex.

Technological abuse includes stalking male partners as well as staking them in social media. Using male partner’s intimate photo or videos and circulate them in social media to blackmail and harass them.

Role of gender biased law

Frankly putting these gender based laws has made women overpower that now they are abusing them. The law which came with the objective of promoting and protecting women is now being used as a tool to avenge against men also these laws are rigid which is leading to stereotypical notions among the society. There is no denying that men have traditionally acted violently against women. It does not, however, offer an excuse for the lack of laws protecting men from this kind of mistreatment.

The Indian Penal Code 1860, Section 498A, states that only a man is accountable for mistreating his wife. The act contains no subsections or provisions that would hold a woman accountable for domestic abuse. Not even the police listen to guys when they try to come forward and report instances of physical assault and torture they have experienced. When a guy reports domestic abuse, Indian society frequently labels him as “effeminate” or “feeble.”

Domestic violence against men is gradually increasing day-by-day. With no specific laws to protect rights of men the number of fake cases is also in rise. Most importantly women do not need to give any evidence to prove their innocence in these cases it’s all based on how innocent she can look. As they are presumed to be unworthy of committing any act.

We see every day on Instagram and YouTube women physically abusing men on streets due to unforeseen reasons. For instance last year young lady got out of her car and continuously slapped an old man because he could not open main gate on time and she later on told the police that the old man molested her. These stories have become common that nothing is being done.

In addition to this, under Indian law only wife can claim permanent alimony and maintenance. If a man sits back at home doing all the chores and supporting his wife while she is out working to earn money, why can’t he ask for alimony or maintenance from his wife? In a well established society where women are breadwinner of the family, it isn’t hard to provide a man some amount of money to support himself; this is also not acceptable in our society.

Men die by suicide more frequently than women, but women consider suicide more frequently than men, according to a 2002 World Health Organization report. Prolonged exposure to violent situations can result in a variety of mental and physical illnesses, including suicidal thoughts and feelings, depression, and chronic physical conditions like HIV/AIDS, cancer, and heart attacks.

The Statistics on Domestic Violence against Men in India

As per the numbers, Gender-based violence affects 52.4 percent of married men, according to a survey of 1000 married men ranging in age from 21 to 49 years old in rural communities of Haryana. [5]

In their lives, 51.5 percent of men have been subjected to some form of torture or abuse by their spouse.

Emotional abuse is the most prevalent form of marital or domestic violence against males (51.6 percent), with physical abuse coming in second (6 percent).

 Indian wives rank 3rd in the world in beating their husbands. Egypt and the United Kingdom rank first and second, respectively.[6]

Signs of domestic violence

These are some signs that people show when they are experiencing any kind of abuse,

They may seem anxious to please their partner or afraid of their partner, especially talking about their temper or they are restricted from seeing family and friends moreover they might look depressed or suicidal.

They may act submissive towards every minor thing. In order to hide physical injuries victims may wear unusual apparel. For instance wearing long sleeve in summers or wearing sunglasses in evening or night. The victims become more aware of their surrounding that minor clanking and breaking of things make then frightened.

If these signs appear, then there is a chance that they are victim of domestic abuse and are crying for help. It is to be noted that in such cases we should talk to them and help them to file complaint against perpetrator rather than fighting off the abuser it is advised to call police for help.

Fight for men’s right

Even after years and years of independence, we have laws that are static in nature. This is the reason why men and women are suffering for ages. In terms of rights and protection of women we have seen many developments that are effective as well but what about rights and protection of men.

On 4th April 2013, Save India foundation has conducted a candlelight vigil in the memory of Manoj Kumar who committed suicide because of cruelty by his wife and mother-in law.[7] Actually in current scenario it is the mindset of the society that cruelty and harassment can be inflicted only by men upon women and no one even initiate to think of cruelty and harassment upon men by his wife and in-laws.

Dr. Indu Subhash, a woman who fought for men’s right and demanded gender neutral laws and rooted for national commission for men.

The movement to fight for men’s rights was established by Supreme Court lawyer Ram Prakash Chugh, who handles cases including torture and fake dowries. The organization was once called the SOCIETY FOR PREVENTION OF CRUELTY TO HUSBANDS’ CRIME AGAINST MAN CELL.

In 2015, Vaastav foundation released a calendar named ‘Malender’ that highlights the special days of men, intending to raise awareness for the same[8]. Every year on November 19, the world observes International Men’s Day to raise awareness of many issues that affect males, such as violence, abuse, homelessness, and parental rejection It’s also a time to honor the lives, accomplishments, and efforts of boys and men, especially those related to the country, union, society as a whole, belonging, family, marriage, and childcare. Every year International Men’s Day is celebrated with a specific theme and for year 2023 the theme was ‘zero male suicide’. The objective of this theme was to minimize death of male victims by suicide and hence men supporting each other in times of disparity.

In 2018, Avijan, a welfare and charitable trust for men, organized a protest in Kolkata to demand gender neutrality in law, a men’s commission in India, repealing of Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, and strong action against misuse of the rape law.[9]

There is millions of people fight for women’s right, but Ms. Deepika Bhradwaj, a former journalist and documentary filmmaker decided to raise voice for atrocities faced by men.

We may see several other silent heroes who are fighting everyday to protect the rights of man this will for sure help us in future.

SUGGESTIONS

Improving the situation of men facing domestic violence requires approach that addresses societal attitudes, legal framework, support services and awareness. By implementing these suggestions we can work together to create a society where all individuals regardless of their gender live freely without any fear from violence. Some suggestions are mentioned below:-

Raise awareness Increase public awareness about reality of violence taking place against men through educational campaigns, media coverage and community outreach. Challenge stereotypes and misconception about masculinity and victimization.

Enhance legal protection Advocate for gender neutral laws and policies that recognize and protect male victims of domestic violence. We have to ensure that legal framework provide equal access to support services, legal remedies and protection for all victims regardless of gender.

Expand support system  Increase availability of support system regarding needs of male victims including shelters, counseling, legal aid and peer support groups. It is to be ensured that these services are accessible, inclusive and free from gender bias.  

Encourage help seeking behavior We need to promote help seeking behavior among male victims by reducing stigma, providing confidence and non-judgmental support and raising awareness about available resources.

Collaboration and coordination  If all the government agencies, NGOs, society and community groups work together in this motion we can see reduce in numbers of cases.

Not today but one day if we see gender bias laws no longer exist we can believe that our motion of healthy and safe society was successful which does not seem to happen anytime sooner.

CONCLUSION

To conclude, domestic violence against men is a major issue that is often neglected. Despite societal beliefs that downplay or dismiss it, all men can and do is suffered from domestic abuse. The stigma, shame, and societal pressures surrounding masculinity prevent male victims from seeking help or reporting the abuse. To tackle this issue effectively, we need a multifaceted approach that challenges traditional gender roles, strengthens legal protections for male victims, increases support services for affected men, raises awareness about the issue and promotes gender equality in society.

 Acknowledging the experiences of male victims, offering them essential assistance, and promoting empathy will help us foster safer and inclusive communities for all. Breaking the stigma around domestic violence against men, empowering survivors to reach out for support, and involving all parties in joint efforts is crucial to combating this widespread issue. Only by working together can we create a society where justice, equality, and safety prevail for all impacted by domestic violence.

Submitted by Nishi kumari.

Student of Vinoba Bhave University.


[1] Muskan Santwani, Men don’t feel pain, Times of India, (March 19,2024), https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/readersblog/mypoetry/men-dont-feel-pain-28797

[2]  The Protection Of Women From Domestic Violence Act, 2005, No. 43 Acts of Parliament 2005 (India)

[3] Kimmel Michael, Male Victims of Domestic Violence: A Substantive and Methodological Research Review (2002)

[4] NDTV, https://www.ndtv.com/gurgaon-news/web-designer-arrested-for-filing-fake-rape-complaint-against-2-gurugram-men-3887635 (Last visited March 19 , 2024)

[5] Nadda, Anuradha & Malik, JagbirS. (2019). A Cross.sectional Study of Gender.Based Violence against Men in the Rural Area of Haryana, India. Indian Journal of Community Medicine. 44. 10.4103/ijcm.IJCM_222_18.

[6] Aditya Pandey, Mensxp, https://www.mensxp.com/special-features/features/108932-domestic-violence-cases-on-indian-men-facts-and-statistics.html (Last visited March 19,2024)

[7] Alisha Chauhan, Reflections, https://reflections.live/articles/10556/domestic-violence-against-men-men-too-can-be-the-victim-of-abuse-an-article-by-alisha-chauhan-9285-lg3nybhq.html#:~:text=On%20April%2004%202013%2C%20Save,and%20mother%2Din%2Dlaw. (Last visited on March 19, 2024)

[8] Vaastav foundation, https://vaastav.org/recent-activities/latest-announcement/malendar-a-calendar-for-men/ (Last visited on March 19,2024)

[9] Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Men%27s_Day#cite_note-38 , (Last visited March 18, 2024)