Domestic violence is nearly always related instantly to women being the silent sufferer and men as the offender. The familiar gender stereotypical view that often goes without discussion or valuable debate, men are villains and females are victims. But this picture is incomplete in reality is what this article circles around.
Swastika Sengupta, School of Law, KIIT, 20 August, 2020 8:05 PM IST
Domestic Violence can in layman’s terms be decided as a wide range of violent acts committed by a partner, member of a household against the other. It often relates to the ill-treatment of the spouse or even the child. It can broadly be segregated into categories, like physical mistreatment, verbal or even psychological harassment and sexual abuse done to another by a closely related member of the family.
The Indian culture has created an age old façade that the females are the sole ones to be oppressed and harmed by the opposite gender and their families. This stereotypical view of our country has increased the crime rate against men nearly by half over the last decade. These preconceived notions create a make believe situation even in the law cases wherein it is often very hard to believe that women in our culture are even capable of inflicting harm on their male counterparts. The legal relation between the two parties when it comes to domestic violence is what differentiates it from other sexual crimes prevalent in our community.
The intent of this article is to broaden the horizon and shed light on domestic violence being inflicted upon males and find out several reasons that lead to the underreporting of such cases. It also aims at providing probable solutions from both legal and sociocultural perspectives of this issue and also the sensitisation of the matter, to pave a more open path so that talking about it comes naturally to males as it does to females today.
Prevalence of the Domestic Violence in India
“According to a recent study made all over India, 98% of the male respondents had suffered domestic violence more than once in their lives. The study covered Indian husbands from various socioeconomic strata, but the bulk of the respondents, according to the researchers, came from the upper middle class and the middle class”.Sarkar, S, Dsouza, R, Dasgupta, A. Domestic Violence against Men: A Study Report by Save Family Foundation. New Delhi: Save Family Foundation; 2007.
Different scenarios of Domestic Violence on Men
The way of popularising an issue in the recent times has become easier than it was with the development of social media, and thus relevant issues of the society gain sufficient audience only when channelized through a popular forum or platform. Today, when a celebrity falls prey to such social evils and voices his sufferings, it then becomes noteworthy to talk about. Sad! Isn’t it? That we need someone else, a medium to make way for us to have adequate courage and the law to have an open acceptance towards such reporting.
The second obstacle is the frequently used section of our Indian Penal Code, Section 498A. The lawmakers of our country had framed this section predominantly to protect the women against cruelty. The era, in which such a section was framed, the trying times then were very different from the present situation now. The belief that this section is only for protecting women is where the nook of the orthodox and rigid outlook begins and needs the most sensitization.
At present when the cross investigations are done upon such charges pressed on males, it is distressing to note that the number of acquittals is more juxtapose to the number of final convictions. Thus, the ideology of such a section was largely to protect the females, in a time when they were not brave and did not have enough means to voice their rights, has now tuned into what the Supreme Court calls it, Legal Terrorism and is immensely responsible for calling it an “anti-male law”.
In an independent country, which is admired for its constitution and vastness is now known for a law against a particular gender in practicality and not on paper, is still very disheartening and worrisome . In the recently decided case of Sarvjeet Singh Bedi of Delhi, 2015 he had to circle around courts and police custody ruthlessly for almost 4 years after an outrage broke against him when a girl filed a complaint accusing him of harassing her during a traffic light wait . However, after an unnecessary distortion of his reputation over social media where many infamous people showed immense hatred, he was acquitted.
Another very direct and visible reason for under reporting of domestic violence faced by males is because of the preconceived belief that in a male-dominated society one must feel shameful for being threatened and harassed by a “biologically weaker gender”, females. The pressure from their family and also the terror of being trapped under the charges of 498A for taking any action against such behaviour inflicted by their spouse. Moreover, men are often not believed by authorities and even by their loved ones, time and again goes unnoticed. Protesting by men is also termed as a ‘girly behaviour’ in a society that is hovered by ‘chauvinistic males’.
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Effects of domestic violence of males
Any form violence is said to affect life physically, mentally, emotionally, and psychologically. The science of biology that differentiates men and women does not subjugate the emotional capability of men at any point, and therefore it is not very alien for us to accept that males might also be sensitive and an unworthy of violence. Unnoticed violence against men often leads to refutation in accepting the family, divorce, depression, or suicide in paramount cases. According to WHO (2002), “women think more about committing suicide, whereas men die by suicide more frequently. This is also known as a gender paradox in society”
Need of the Hour
The government should incorporate more gender-neutral laws that would cover the false charges pressed against males and for the creation of more human rights activism for men as well. The outlook of the members of the society also largely affects the confidence of males and thus must change for the better. In India, today The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 is drafted only for women. The areas for protection in such cases of violence should be for both the spouses. The problems faced by men should also be given importance and recognised publicly as a social issue.
The society is transient in nature and evolving as we speak. The family structure has also undergone several changes and thus calls for laws protecting it that is at pace with the recent times. Men are also harassed by their partners and should be given ample opportunities to be protected from it. Need for gender sensitization is to make men feel more congenial and also giving them a window to voice their sufferings alongside women.
This article vouches for equal and just protection and shielding for both the gender equally and its harmonious coexistence. The laws makers at present should broaden the extent of the domestic violence act and inculcate the issues and solution pertaining to men as well give due importance to both men and women equivalently.