Domestic Violence affects men too

Arnab_DNADomestic 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.

The In Response column gives decision-makers and community leaders a chance to view their opinions on articles that appear in this newspaper


One thought on “Domestic Violence affects men too

  1. Another classical example of the gross misuse of Dowry Act (498A) back in India is the case of television celebrity, Suhaib Ilyasi. India’s Most Wanted television host was in controversy after the dispute over his daughter Aaliya’s custody rose soon after Ilyasi’s wife Anju committed suicide on January 10, 2000 in Delhi. While his mother–in-law, Rukma Singh wanted custody of the child on the ground that she had the right under Muslim law, Suhaib Ilyasi had taken the plea that his marriage with Anju was not solemnized as per the Muslim law but had been a civil affair. His sister-in-law Rashmi Singh came from Canada after six months of her sister’s death and filed a complaint with the police against Ilyasi, alleging that he used to torture his wife Anju for dowry.

    The case took bizarre turn when Anju’s brother Prashant Singh and father Prof K P Singh took a diametrically opposite stand and described the allegations against Ilyasi as “rubbish.” Prashant told Express Newsline:`whatever my mother and sister Rashmi are stating against Suhaib Ilyasi is a lot of rubbish. There is no truth in their statement or in the charges filed by the police against Suhaib Ilyasi. If you are holding Suhaib responsible for Anju’s suicide, then my mother and sister are also to blame, as they unduly interfered in their family matters.

    K P Singh, a retired IIT professor, agreed with Prashant. “My wife and daughter are breaking up my family”. Both Anju’s father and brother allege that Rukma and Rashmi have given statements against Suhaib Ilyasi as `they wanted custody of baby Aaliya. When Suhaib Ilyasi delayed that, they put him in trouble.’

    Anju’s mother Rukma Singh had changed her earlier statement given in January, 2000, in which she had stated that she did not suspect any foul play by Suhaib Ilyasi. However when Ilyasi refused to give custody of his daughter, she change her statement and alleged dowry harassment against Ilyasi.

    It has been alleged for long that Dowry Act (498a) in India is being consistently misused by clever women for extortion and blackmailing. The NCRB records suggest that during 2005-2006, 94% of the 498A, 304B cases filed by women or by her relatives were primarily to settle scores.

    Section 498A in itself is, however, not meant to deal specifically with dowry — it is commonly considered to be a ‘dowry law’ because domestic violence against a wife related to dowry demands is considered to be within the scope of ‘cruelty’ envisaged by the Section.

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