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Three crore men are facing domestic violence: We need laws to protect them

Rajesh Vakharia

In most countries in the world, 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. However, in India family violence against men is almost legal as there is no provision in any law to protect a man, who faces violence from wife or other female family members.

This is situation is mainly due to the patriarchal thinking in the society, that men are stronger than women and they can defend themselves with physical force. It time, India keeps pace with the rest of the world and makes the laws against domestic violence gender neutral.

Since last 11 years, Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF) has hundreds of volunteers all over India, who counsel male victims of domestic violence.

According to Anil Kumar, a Co-Founder of SIFF, “We are talking with a couple of MPs to submit a private member bill in the parliament to start the steps towards enacting a law for protection of men from domestic violence. This is long overdue. The number of male victims of domestic violence in India are more than entire population of Australia. The country must give protection to vulnerable people irrespective of gender.”

“Most abused men do not run away from their abusers or 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.” He says.

In 2004, the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) has found that about 1.8% or an estimated 60 lakh women have perpetrated physical violence against husbands without any provocation. However, men are more likely to be threatened and attacked by male relatives of the wife than the wife herself.

When physical violence and threats against men by wife’s relatives are taken into account, an estimated 3 crore men are facing domestic violence 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.

The various types of family violence that men face include:

  • Physical violence like slapping, pushing, hitting by wife, her parents or relatives.
  • 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.
  • Abuse gets worse if husband avoids sex after a day of violence or threats.
  • Subjecting husband to violence like scratching and hitting him if he used contraceptives.
  • Threatening to create a ruckus in the neighborhood and threatening to jail him in false cases.

“Today, many women have serious anger management issues. They also seem to bring 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-fulfillment of expectations. Sometimes, inability of husband to meet monetary demands of wife also leads to abuse and violence.” Says Roopenshu Singh, head of SIFF at Delhi, which runs unique crisis centers from abused men in Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad.

“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 restraint the women does not exist.” He says.

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. Then, 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.

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