Domestic violence against women has today gained enormous social and legal acceptance all over the world. However, while domestic violence on a woman has today become a socially accepted crime, domestic violence against a man has gained little acceptance in countries like India. This inconsistency begins to make sense when one considers the fact that while Male-on-Female Violence is seen through a criminal lens, Female-on-Male Violence is viewed more benignly.
While India spends over Rs1,200 core annually just to create awareness of domestic violence against women, the issue of domestic violence against men goes largely unaddressed.
A peer-reviewed US study on Domestic Violence done by MA Strauss, titled Dominance and symmetry in partner violence by male and female university students in 32 nations quotes the prevalence of bidirectionality of severe physical violence and has the numbers for 32 countries including India: 11.9 per cent of Indian couples face domestic violence; 15.3 per cent of times only the male is violent; 23 per cent of times only the female is violent; 61.5 per cent of times both are violent.
Indian domestic violence laws in particular are so badly drafted that they outright exclude even the possibility of a woman being accused of committing domestic violence against the male partner. Husbands are not even allowed to break free of abusive relationships since they only face mockery in courts.
According to statistics provided by the National Crime Records Bureau in the last 12 years (1996 – 2008) 170,000 husbands have been claimed by rampant domestic violence against them. In a shocking revelation of suicide statistics for the year 2008 reveals that almost double the number of married men have committed suicide in comparison to married women as the report corroborates. It states that in the year 2008, 57,639 married men committed suicide in comparison to 30,224 married women whereas the same figures for the years 2007, 57,593 and 30,064, 2006 are 55,452 and 29,869 and for 2005 are 52,483 and 28,188.
Indian society must start accepting the fact that men too can be victims of domestic violence and offer men the same sort of support structure as women. Studies must be commissioned to learn and understand the problems that men face in relationships and ways it can be addressed. Laws must be made gender neutral so justice is delivered irrespective of gender. It is high time that Indian men stand and speak up in unison for the government, society and the legal system to provide them with the same sort of support structure that they provide women.