Inclusion of male as victims of Domestic Violence Act in India
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Domestic Violence has been accepted across the world as a form of violence that affects an individuals life in every way – physically, mentally, emotionally and psychologically – and is a violation of basic human rights. Several countries have acknowledged it as a serious threat to a person’s overall well-being irrespective to the gender hence providing relief in various forms. India has also identified domestic violence as a crime and provides relief and protection from it – albeit to only Women.
Indian men facing domestic violence at the hands of wife or female partner is a harsh reality. However, no one including our government has taken any stand on addressing it. Domestic Violence is a serious social issue, but men who face domestic violence in India have nowhere to go since neither the law nor the society accepts them as victims.
In most countries across the globe, the laws against domestic violence provide protection to both men and women. Men can also seek restraining orders from courts, which restrain the abusive partner or wife from perpetrating abuse and even contacting the victim. Whereas in India, family violence against men is almost legal as there is no provision in the law to protect a man, who faces violence from wife or other female family members. There are uncountable cases where a husband has been abused, tortured by wife or female partners in connivance with her own family or relatives or even friends. Many times the violence is so brutal that the husband or the male partner suffers extreme injuries, which results in loss of life.
This situation is mainly due to the so-called patriarchal thinking in the society, that men are physically stronger than women. It’s high time in India to keep pace with the rest of the world and makes the laws against domestic violence gender neutral.
Forum for Social Justice & Development (Registered NGO) working on GENDER EQUALITY, for few years have highlighted this grievous issue. A day is not far when a war will begin between the two sexes to secure their own rights which will surely paralyze the entire society, therefore enacting a law for protection of men from domestic violence by inclusion of men in Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA 2005) is an absolute need of hour which is long overdue.
Most abused men in India run away from their abusers and apply for divorce, because they are either afraid of losing access to their children or they are afraid of getting implicated in false cases of dowry harassment. They also fear for huge financial losses and long drawn litigation in the process, given the insensible and lackadaisical attitude of the Indian Judiciary towards men. This could be the prime reason when male suicides rate is much higher than the female suicide rates as 4966 for males and 4049 for females under the various age groups sharing in the category of marriage related issues, love affairs etc except dowry deaths as per the date published by the National Crime Record Bureau of India under Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. Apart from that the data also shockingly showed that male suicide rates are further much higher in respect to their female counterparts which accounts 86562 for males and 38039 for females under various societal and medical issues henceforth it is now a unquestionable fact that males are more inclined to end their lives in comparison to females but no protective measures are available in India.
As there is a lot of social stigma towards men abused by women. Most of the male victims do not come out in open and do not share their ordeal with family, friends or colleagues. Male victims of domestic violence are ridiculed and considered as unmanly. Such thinking is chauvinistic and it is harmful. Violence on men can range from anything like - physical violence including slapping, pushing, hitting by wife, her parents or relatives; emotional violence with wife threatening suicide to intimidate and control the husband; verbal abuse if husband remains in contact with his parents or comes home late from work; throwing objects like utensils, cell phones and crockery at the husband; sexual abuse if husband denies sex to mental abuse by constant threats of implicating the husband and his family under false case of dowry and domestic violence.
Like men, a female partner also tends to brings the stress of the workplace to the home. This is one of the main reasons of domestic violence against men. The other reasons include intolerance and anger at non-fulfilment of expectations. Sometimes, incapability of husband to meet monetary demands of wife also leads to abuse and violence. Times are changing and there are many men whose wives are more educated than their husbands and earn more. However, the burden of running the house still rests on the man owing to 16th century patriarchal beliefs and this paves the path for abuse of men. Such a law could allow such husbands to seek maintenance from an abusive wife and lead a dignified life free from abuse. Male victims of family violence go through low self-esteem and their performance at workplace suffers. Thousands of such men are approaching psychiatrists, who are not of much help, when a law to provide protection to men and restrain the women does not exist.
Most parents of women blame the son-in-law for the breakdown of the marriage, without accepting that their daughter is abusive or she has serious anger management issues. They somehow think their daughter can never be wrong and expect the son-in-law to tolerate her. They get violent at son-in-law to teach him a lesson or seek revenge. Police rarely accept any complaints filed by husband about the violence he is suffering, claiming that this is a family issue. They also refuse to provide any protection to the man.
The most popular patriarchal thinking that “Mard ko Dard nahihota” (Men do not feel pain) eulogizes and patronizes emotional castration of boys from a very young age which teaches them to tolerate abuse and feel glorified about making sacrifices. Owing to this social structure, a vast majority of victimized men wear an artificial smile and hide their scars and suffer in isolation.
The surveys conducted throws light on unprovoked violence against men by women is evidence in the face. Notwithstanding the fact that double the numbers of men commit suicide compared to women, it should not be a surprise to ask for a law to protect men as such a law for women already exists. In fact, it would be preposterous in this age of gender equality, not to have such a law. Such a law to protect men from domestic violence would act as relief to millions of those men who feel victimized and left out. It would also provide them with a legal platform to come forward and share their pain and get some semblance of a relief.
The system cannot change unless we challenge societal norms and encourage others to realize domestic abuse towards men is a problem which needs attention now. HENCE WE BELIEVE THAT INCLUSION OF MALES UNDER DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT may neutralize the law with a good output while allowing only genuine victims of either gender to come forward and demand for justice and subsequently minimize the misuse of legal provisions in India.
Attribution: Unknown artist of the Kalighat Style, Calcutta, 1875 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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