Madurai: The Madras High Court on Thursday called for a “neutral and non prejudicial” law to protect genuine victims of domestic violence, irrespective of the gender, noting that existing law contains a flaw that lends itself to easy misuse by women.
In the above news, the Madurai bench of Madras High Court has asked for a gender neutral law to tackle Domestic Violence. At the onset, in the wake of a rising men’s rights movement in India and scores of abused men thronging for justice, this idea might just catch the fantasy of many a those who are batting for battered men.
However, I choose to differ here. I don’t think it’s a great idea. Rather it’s an erroneous idea prone to extreme backlashes.
And before the brickbats come for me, here’s why I think it’s a bad idea.
Domestic Violence problem distinct for men and women: The issue of Domestic Violence is not uniform for men and women. It’s rather very different. While woman claim to have been abused verbally, physically, emotionally, financially and sexually and the same set of abuses may apply for a man as well, however, when it comes to a man facing domestic violence, the problem is much more varied and complex for men.
Often men are threatened with violence by male relatives of the woman, notwithstanding the fact that such violence against men, at the instigation and behest of a woman is legal in India.
Men also face legal threats about being jailed under a false charge of domestic violence, again it is pertinent to mention here that it is very easy to get a man arrested on false charges of domestic violence by wife. Many such attempts and threats have driven married men to commit suicide and is the prime reason why married men end their lives prematurely.
Men are mostly cut off from their immediate social support structure like parents, close friends, cousins etc. and the man is defamed in front of them, insulted many a times and this breaks the confidence of a man which makes him an easy prey for establishing further control over the man.
More often than not men are forced to write-off their hard earned property (house, site, etc.) to their wives and the society supports such a demand by wife irrespective of her nature. This disparity between men’s problems and women’s problems is depicted here.
Laws in India are easier to make then review: We already have too many laws for domestic violence against women. And they are totally anti-male.
In those laws, there is no scope for a male victim to file any complaint because the very definition of law is against men and defines them as ubiquitous and stereotypical aggressors.
To modify such laws is a gargantuan and mammoth task as each law has various vested interests and stakeholders who tend to gain a lot from the law. In this case, it’s the lawyers lobby and the women who file the cases. And that’s a huge force which won’t allow modification of existing law.
It would be rather easier to have a new law drafted for protecting men from Domestic Violence which would cater specifically to the male side of the problem.
Research lacking from the male perspective: And last, but not the least, credible academic research about men facing domestic violence is severely lacking in India.
The Govt. of India invests no resources for the same and there are no surveys or studies conducted.
Neither are the organizations like Save Indian Family Foundation and Confidare, who are premier organizations batting for battered men, are being consulted on how to address the issue, nor are the male victims of domestic violence given any official platform to voice their woes.
In the absence of even such basic infrastructure, it would be preposterous to bring in a half-baked law on domestic violence which will do more harm than any remedial measure for battered men.
Hence, this idea of a uniform law for domestic violence is erroneous and needs to be rejected. What we need, is a male-centric law to protect male victims of domestic violence.