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Published : August 07, 2012 | Author : mahimaupes
Category : Criminal law | Total Views : 4488 | Rating :

Mahima Shankar, BBA-LL.B,4th year, UPES,Dehradun

Violent Touch: Hidden Side of Women

In the eyes of our society, all abusers are men; all victims of domestic violence are only women”. But to what extent this is true. No one has tried to find out what exists in reality and has followed blindly something which was rampant in the previous years. Though a feminist at heart, but at the same time also a protector of justice and therefore intolerant towards violence of any kind of which ‘violence against men’ forms a part. Domestic violence is considered to be one of the gravest human rights violations. Through this article an attempt has been made to showcase the plight of Indian men.

Domestic violence has been traditionally and for years linked and understood as a crime against defenseless women by powerful men. For decades women have accepted it to be a part of their destiny and so never raised voice in protest of it. For centuries women have suffered as they were not treated equal to men. To overcome the existing situation a substantial step was taken in the direction and the Domestic Violence Act, 2005(DV act, 2005) which is a laudable piece of legislation was enacted to tackle the problem.

With change in power dynamics, economic independence, change in values & norms, education the status of women has changed. Now, she is no more confined to the four walls of her household. There is no doubt that spousal violence against women is a serious issue and the same may be still very much prevalent in some parts of India but the ‘drastic change’ along with legal development has resulted in intimate partner violence against men. Women empowerment is an excellent thought. But the use of perverted and barbaric rules to empower women results in misuse or abuse of the same leading to disempowerment of men.

This calls for a special law in order to curb the menace the same way DV Act 2005 was introduced which states ‘aggrieved person’ only as ‘women’ and ‘respondent’ as any ‘male’ person. Much has been studied and talked about on violence against woman but not on violence against men.

Can Women Show Aggressive Behavior?
For years, it has been put forward by way of mythology, literature, tradition that men are superior to woman. And so a woman being violent or oppressive is something which is unthinkable or unimaginable of their position in the society. But, all humans are hysterical and offensive and so women are not an exception and cannot be excluded from the same. A number of metabit analytic reviews of various studies have found that women are as likely to use domestic violence as men, but their probability of getting injured or killed during the ambush is higher. There are evidences in the form of research which suggest that women are more aggressive or violent as compared to men in an intimate relation.

It is considered that women cannot be perpetrators of violence as they are weak, under the control of their husbands and also dependent on them. And if even for once they involve themselves in violent behavior it is in self-defence. It is just a myth. On the other hand data or statistics throw light on a different picture altogether. Till date much has not been done in relation to this side of the coin but it has been estimated that out of the 100 reported cases of domestic violence, 40 cases involve violence against men. Further, a nationwide online survey conducted by Save Family Foundation during 2005-06 found that out of 1,00,00 men surveyed 98% men faced severe domestic violence at the hands of their wife and in-laws. To reflect more on the sorry state of affairs, Indian men are in if analysis or examination of national crime records bureau (NCRB) are to be taken as true on cases of suicide from 1998-2008 it was disclosed that the fundamental reason for 26.1% of suicides are domestic dispute, family problems accompanied with stress.

Moreover, the art of denial of one’s emotions is ingrained in men. The phrase “boys don’t cry” concludes it all. Men have the art to control what they feel. The fact that men have fewer emotions than women is accepted by all in the society although there is no scientific evidence which proves the same. Instances of spousal abuse against men are low but gradually on a rise so; there is non-availability of dependable estimates to support the issue. Domestic violence and abuse of men by woman is so unusual that it leads to a feeling of embarrassment and disgrace for most men and so they do not report the incident. They are also apprehensive that it would affect their reputation in the society. All this is because of the social system and values to which they are hooked up. Even if men gather all their courage to address the act of violence against them people are amazed and surprised as it is hard for them to believe that even this can happen. Because it is perceived that woman are not capable of doing so or they don’t possess the power to do so. Other cause for this is that the impact of domestic violence is less in men so it is less likely to catch the attention of others.

Whereas, to encourage women to come out and share their sufferings much has been done by the law makers and counseling and psychological community but compared to it virtually nothing has been done in the case of men. Therefore, it is easy to conclude that only a man can be accused of violence in an intimate relation and not a woman

Carrying on in a Violent Relation:
Men bear and hold on in a brutal and abusive relationship for many reasons which are as follows:-
a) Belief that things would improve.
b) Concern about damage to their social status.
c) Love for the children accompanied with the fear of not being able to see the kids again.
d) Pressure or responsibilities to make the relation work & also to save themselves from being blamed.
e) Assume blame for events which forces them to think that they are being punished for their wrongdoings.
f) Certain percentage of men are dependent on their wives financially as wells as otherwise. So, the mere thought of breaking away the relation makes them low spirited, gloomy and anxious.

With woman gaining power and men becoming victims of abuse in an intimate relation, it is of utmost importance to take into consideration the effect of such act on individual health and behavior. Spousal violence in cases of men or woman shares something in common but also differs at the same time. Acts that are considered to be abusive or insulting to the individual are the same for men and women but it affects them in contrasting fashion. Pushing, slapping, hitting throwing objects use of weapon are all forms of domestic violence for both the sexes. Abuse by spouse can be mental or emotional as well.

However what hurts a man mentally and emotionally can be distinctive. Ex: to call a man impotent or looser will altogether impact him in a different manner as compared to a woman. It has been taken into account that emotional or mental abuse can be an area where woman are more ‘harsh & rough’ than men. The consequence of violence against men is largely emotional and psychological in nature. In addition to the above it may also be social, economic and physical.

Such kind of harassment may lead to loss of interest in the occupation, addiction to alcohol, stress, frustration, suicide and the like. Such behavior is because women find fault in the attitude, profession, day-to-day work and sexual life of their respective husbands. Rational for the above can also be attributed to characteristics which are commonly found in women such as consumption of alcohol, unrealistic expectations and psychological disorder.

Legal Position:
Men are deemed to be the protector and it is believed that they cannot suffer. But such assumptions and hidden agendas which form part of the basic structure of a society can lead to serious problems over the years. This has turned out to be true where the honourable Delhi High Court dismissed a petition challenging the very formation of the 2005 act as ultra virus of Article 14 of the constitution of India. The court was of the view, ‘Though men are victims of violence, such incidences are few and far between, thus ruling out the possibility of protection for men from the parliament’.

The above statement has shaken the faith of Indian Men in the judiciary to the extent that they do not even abstain from taking the law into their hands by either committing suicide or murder. Men are not only victims of violence in an intimate relation but also victims of misuse of these laws as well. 99 percent of the cases registered under the 2005 act are false and filed with the purpose to demand exuberant money, to take revenge and harass the innocent family and this continues till date in the name of empowerment of the weaker sex. The domestic violence act 2005 was brought into force so that it can prove to be a blessing for people in abusive or violent relationship. The same has been emphasised by the Supreme Court in the case of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation v Nawab Khan Gulab Khan & Ors. But this has resulted in making woman legally supreme over men thus depriving them of their rights. It singles out men as culprit or wrongdoer of domestic violence and assumes woman only as victims. Under this act only a woman can file a complaint against her male partner. This law challenges all logic and it is a task to comprehend the same. It also adds on to the sufferings of men by way of legal victimization.

Article 21 of the constitution confers protection of life and personal liberty which in other words mean life with dignity and free of violence. Therefore, a new law on the subject or including men as aggrieved person in the existing act is essential or required so as to promote their rights as guaranteed under Article 14 and 15 of the constitution. Article 15(3) empowers state to make legislation for the benefit of women and children. It is an exception in favour of the so called ‘weaker section’ of the society. But why only women and children are considered to be worthy of the privilege and not men. Even men are vulnerable. In order to substantiate research by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) provide that in the year 2011 62,433 married men committed suicide in comparison to 32,582 married women.

Men are being exploited in a legally permitted manner. The act has provided women a ‘sword’ which they use for their nefarious gains. Men are not only victims of domestic violence but also of misuse of these laws. Innocent men are accused and framed in false cases, just because they do not act according to the wishes of their better half. To make it simpler there is a provision which treats compliant by a woman prima-facie as ‘true and genuine’. On mere complaint by the wife, the husband is arrested and put in jail, even before trial begins. This amounts to prejudging and punishing the accused without due process. With this a whole new field of possibilities has been opened. The same has been observed in the case of anti dowry law (Section 498A) and this has pressurized the Supreme Court to term it as ‘legal terrorism’. Same approach is needed to be adopted for the 2005 act.

If the female or wife decides not to cook and desires to eat out everyday, the male or the husband or the live in partner cannot afford to not act accordingly as he can be booked under the DV Act and jailed for the same for not providing food. Similarly, if the wife has an affair and the husband has knowledge about it and he prevents her from meeting her lover, again provisions of Domestic Violence Act can be attracted for reframing her from being social. The above are some illustration to show easy abusage of the act for personal benefits. The existing law promotes intolerance and litigation by providing a very wide definition of domestic violence therefore increasing the percentage of woman who faces domestic violence. Even insult is considered to be a form of torture, abuse and violence. For petty domestic disputes the act makes way for divorce, broken homes and therefore making innocent children sacrifice their pleasant childhood. The act has proved to be incompetent and faulty in handling the issue of domestic violence Rights and responsibility are two sides of the same coin or they go hand in hand. But the act imposes a lot of responsibility on men, without giving them rights. And the opposite happens in case of women.

By analyzing the fact that domestic violence is a serious problem and is on increase the law in its current from should be made gender neutral or unbiased so as to protect the real victims of violence. Secondly, provision for stringent punishment need to be added to the law in order to prevent the wrong usage of the act. And also the scope, applicability and definition of domestic violence needs to be narrowed down so that the law has a practical approach and not mere subjective. It has to be made a law which instills fear not in innocent people but in the wrong doers. It should be a law in true sense and not something which is ‘state sponsored terrorism’.

‘If there can be a government organization for women, children and animals, then even men deserve to have one as well’.

With the change in society and its powers, values and norms there is an unnatural misbalance in the relation of man and woman. Time is passing by quickly and if some drastic measures are not taken the society will be filled with instruments or tools guaranteering the end of the human race. Deep and critical analysis of the factors causing abuse within the four walls of homes is required to be done which would result in safe guarding or protecting families from the cruel hands of domestic violence.

The Indian legislature have enacted certain women centric acts, special provisions for women working in industries and also the constitution , CrPC, IPC, IEA give special protection to women. However, the constitution of India provide that (All people are ‘equal’ in the eyes of Law with respect to social, economic and political justice, equal status and opportunities before law) then why Indian men have no equality in Laws, domestic law are biased towards women. The above prove the point that Indian husbands are more harassed than women.

Men are no longer stronger than woman. They are equally in need of help to save themselves from the torture and harassment faced by them at the hands of their wives. Male victims of spousal violence can be helped by way of recognizing violence against them by women, developing helpline, creating awareness by way of education, creating policies solely dedicated to men and also making them strong by providing legal support in the form of a similar act like the DV Act, or by replacing the words ‘husband & wife’ with ‘person’ in the said act. In addition to this also a separate National commission for men on the lines of the ones that exist for women.

Men are treated as ‘second-class victims’ of domestic violence and are also invisible to the authorities. It is required that their rights get duly recognized.

# Anant Kumar (2012): Domestic Violence against Men in India: A Perspective, Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 22:3, 290-296 Retrieved from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10911359.2012.655988
# Statistics for abuse against men: Retrieved from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/sep/05/men-victims-domestic-violence
# Domestic violence against men: Retrieved from: http://www.oregoncounseling.org/Handouts/DomesticViolenceMen.htm
# Data relating to suicide in men: Retrieved from: http://ncrb.nic.in

The  author can be reached at: mahimashankar@legalserviceindia.com

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