Hrishita Agrawal, II Year of B.A.,LL.B(Hons), from School of law, Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya, Indore, (M.P)
When we hear the term Domestic violence, we generally encounter an imagination of a women being threatened by her husband most of the time for no specific reason. Although it is believed that male is physically stronger than a woman, and since ancient times women are being dominated by man so it’s naturally difficult for us to imagine a situation where male itself are the victims, but as times, situations and conditions are changing, there is also a need of stricter change to be made in our mental horizons too. The dictionary meaning of the term domestic violence is “ violent or aggressive behaviour within the home, typically involving the violent abuse of a spouse or a partner*.
Types of violence
Domestic violence has been recognized across the world as a form of violence that affects a person’s life in every way, physically, mentally, emotionally and is a violation of basic human rights.
This included slapping, punishing, hitting by wife, her parents or relative or throwing objects at the husband. The extent of physical violence can be witnessed through an incident faced by Tami of Germany who was paralyzed and that changed his life completely. Slapping was identified to be the most common form (98.3%) and least common one was beaten by a weapon (3.3%). Although the ratio of physical domestic violence suffered by males is not that high but seriously demands our attention. The society needs to recognize such violences as well, they do exist. Why are females underestimated when it comes to harassing their husbands even in the present scenario where they stand equal to men.
Some women who by nature have a very aggressive behaviour usually harass their husbands in case the wife earns more than him or if the husband is not able to earn a suitable amount of money for a healthy living. Instead of being their support system, they just criticize them for not being something or achieving something that is desired by the society. In emotional violence, reported 85% abuse against the men was criticism, 29.7% were insulted in front of others, 3.5% were threatened. It can also be in the form of mental abuse such as constant threats to husband and his family under false allegations of dowry and domestic violence. It is something that is natural as male also belongs to the category of human being, why is it that hard for the society to accept male being the victims.
Report & statistics
When talking about the availability of reports and statistical data in respect to domestic violence against men, the data is always less authentic and reliable as many such cases just go off unreported because men who report domestic violence generally face socio cultural issues such as judgment by male peers; fears of coming out as LGBTQ or having their masculinity questioned. Also, intimate partner violence against man is generally less recognized by society than IPV against women, which can act as a further block to men reporting their situation. Therefore, determining the authentic rate of intimate partner violence against males is difficult as they may be reluctant to repour their abuse or seek help.
Scarce research data on domestic violence against men are available in a scientific literature. However, according to a recent study, 51.5% males experienced violence at the hands of their wives at least once in their lifetime & 10.5% in the last 12 months. According to the national family health survey, 2004, this violence is not always inflicted by a female partner but many a times by male relatives of the wife who attack the man.
Approximately, 3crores men are facing domestic violence when physical violence and threats against him are taken into account by his his wife’s relative. One of the studies done by my nation along with save family foundation on domestic violence against men, between April 2005 & 2006, 1650 men were interviewed and their personal cases looked into. The study concluded that Indian women were the most abusive and dominating.
Despite the data available, suggesting violence against men, no law to protect men has been formed yet by the legislature. All laws for controlling domestic violence consider women victims. According to Section 498A, of the Indian Penal Code 1860, only a man can be held liable for cruelty to his wife. There is not any subsection or any provisions given in the statute that will make a woman liable for domestic violence. Anti-dowry laws, dowry prohibition act, 1961 and later section 498A passed by SC of India already show the concern and asked to stop the legal terrorism in the form of misuse of 498A and necessary changes to be made by parliament. Indian men’s rights activists are most active in their resistance against the country’s anti-dowry laws, which have been controversial for their frequent misuse in order to harass and extort husbands, and they have attributed this to the high suicide rate among married men in India (which is almost twice that of women.) They also assert that the divorce and child custody laws biased, and that the frequency of domestic violence against men has increased.
When it comes to violence, the fact that seriously needs to be recognized is that not just females but males too undergo such tragedies. Domestic violence should be considered spousal violence and must not be differentiated due to gender. Society needs to accept such violence suffered by men and should not make them uncomfortable to come up with such issues by questioning their masculinity rather than considering them as part of human society.
As the term Human rights & gender equality includes both male and female, similarly the laws enforced shall also be gender neutral. It’s high time that statute and laws too should recognize their problem as a social problem or issue. Domestic violence against men can be recognized with effective changes in the laws, by creating awareness and by breaking stereotypes and preconceived notions. In cases where men are falsely accused of violence or dowry, a law which can address these false allegations is a need for the hour.