Domestic Violence against Men:
Domestic violence generally means abuse or misuse of power against a person. Domestic violence mostly happens in homes between spouse and also in some cases against children. The basic difference between assault and domestic violence is that the assault which takes place among family members is called domestic violence. Domestic violence has been recognised as a criminal offence under section 498A of Indian Penal Code. Often it is assumed that female are the victims of domestic violence, but it is not always true.
Many cases of domestic violence are coming up where males are the victims and females are the aggressor. Violence can be of different types. Violence can be physical, phycological, can be threats, etc. Mostly the cases of domestic violence in which males are victims are underreported. As the gender roles are changing, more no of such cases are coming up. Men feel ashamed to even talk about the harassment they go through. The major reason behind this is that people consider the masculinity of man cannot be harmed by a woman and they mock at men who are the suffering from violence by women rather offering them their helping hands.
Both men and women can be victims of domestic violence. Any body can be the abuser and any body can be affected through domestic violence, say it be men or women. Men also suffer violence from their intimate relation such as cohabitation, marriage or within the family. Male victims like female victims also face many barriers to disclose abuse from their partner or any family member. Children can also be victim of domestic violence and it becomes difficult for them to disclose the abuse in front of anybody. Men under domestic violence suffer through embarrassment, threats, social stigma, physical hurt, fear of losing their child, fear of falsely filing of case against them by their partner, etc.
Literature Report on Domestic Violence.
The Domestic Violence act
This act was brought to protect women against domestic violence. The Act came into force from 26th of October 2006. The act defined domestic violence and it stated that not only domestic violence includes physical violence but also it includes emotional violence, verbal violence, sexual violence and also abusing economically. As the name of the act suggest it has particularly mention that the act is to safeguard the rights of women. It is a gender biased law which is silent about the male victims under domestic violence. The act tempts women to falsely accuse their rival as the act make it very easy for women to file falsely cases against their male relatives and other family members. This will create panic among males and may lead to lawlessness. Although the purpose behind making this act was righteous but many women are misusing the laws under this act which will induce fear among innocent people. Therefore, the gender biasness must be removed, and unprejudiced law must come to protect the actual and veritable victims of domestic violence regardless the gender of the victim.
Gender and sexuality
The book gender and sexuality has described about legally sanctioned same sex marriages and civil partnerships. It has mentioned that in many industrialised countries, steps have been taken to decriminalise same sex marriages and unions. The study shows that attitude towards sexuality has liberalised in this industrial era though there are considerable numbers of people who have old school and traditional thoughts. It shows there has been significant amends in gender roles. This book describes sexuality as a social phenomenon. This make it transparent that the connection between sexual identity, sexual desires and sexual activity are far from simple. They differ from people to people. Historical and cultural comparisons show that there are vast variety of sexual expression and interpretation of sexual activity among people. So, we must liberalise the attitude towards sexuality rather than following old traditional beliefs.
Male Victims of Domestic Violence
It suggests that domestic violence has became an emerging problem of the world. We have to come up with solutions to change the present conditions of domestic violence. Many steps in terms of research, advocacy, laws, police procedure, medical efforts have been taken to spur up prosecution. The author indicates that in recent years debate has come up among activist, organisations, and individuals about the nature of domestic violence. Many research reports indicates that both men and women are victims under this in equivalent. So, activists for men’s right have suggested that policy-oriented efforts for females have been misplaced, because the law entirely focuses on women and to safeguard the rights of women under domestic violence.
Kinds of Domestic Violence.
Physical Violence include any physical activity to harm any person like hitting, slapping, pushing, punching, or throwing any substance on a person. When any person uses physical force to harm somebody it is called physical violence. In many cases of domestic violence physical violence is severe in nature. Many men are victimised under physical violence where the wives have anger issues and also by their in-laws.
This includes violence through emotions, words, criticisms and mentally harassing someone. It can be in forms of threats for false accusations of dowry and other female biased laws. In psychological violence, it has been reported 85% abuse against the male was criticism, 29.7% were insulting and 3.5% were threatening. Many men are threatened by their wives and in-laws and also verbally abused often. Unkind and cruel words linger in the mind of males and affect them mentally. In most cases men are more affected by mental abuse rather than physical abuse. Some of the examples of psychological violence are:
Threat to commit suicide
Not letting to meet or preventing from meeting any person
Insults for nor earning enough money, etc.
Legal approach of India on Domestic Violence.
In India Domestic Violence has been seen as a crime against women only. So the laws in India that directly deal with Domestic Violence are:
The section 498-A of Indian Penal Code
The Dowry Prohibition Act
The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005
Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code:
The IPC, 1960 is the most important substantive law of India. Some amendments have been done in IPC regarding domestic violence to safeguard the rights of the citizens of India. One such amendment is 498-A. This section states that husband or any relative of the husband of a woman, if subjects her to any cruelty will be a criminal offence and will be made liable under this section. Cruelty has been defined under this section 498-A in the explanation. It has been stated that cruelty is-
any wilful conduct which is likely to drive the women to commit suicide, or to case any serious injury to the women
harassment of the women like forcing her or any other person in relation with her to fulfil any unlawful demands.
The Dowry Prohibition Act
As the name suggest it came as a law to cease dowry activity which was much prevalent as a social evil in India. Dowry is an unlawful demand of money, financial assistance, properties or other such things from the groom’s family to the bride’s family before, during or after the marriage. Generally, women are subjected to domestic violence if she or her family is unable to fulfil the unlawful demands from the groom’s family. This act came for controlling for the activity of dowry. In addition to this, violence occurring due to non-fulfilment of dowry is also regulated through this act. The Act also provide certain powers to make rules and regulation regarding giving and accepting of dowry.
The Protection of Women Against Domestic Violence Act
This act came in 2005 through parliament to tackle the problem of violence and protection of women against violence in domestic setup. The act came into force on 26th October, 2006. This act stated that violent doesn’t only include physical violence but also verbal, emotional, sexual, and economical abuse. This is a civil law for protection orders and not meant to be applied criminally. Domestic violence has been defined in the act under section 3 of the said act as any act shall be constituted as domestic violence if it:
Injures or harms or endangers health, safety, life, limb, or wellbeing, be it physical or mental of the aggrieved person,
Harasses, harms, injures, or endanger the person to force her or anyone else related to her to do any unlawful act for any dowry.
Has threatened the person or anyone else related to her by any conduct mentioned in the above two points,
Or injures or harm, physical or mental, to the person.
This legislation became a commendable legislation which contemplates and acknowledges wider varieties of violence against women. Before this act came, all different situation of violence in domestic set-up inside the family are to be dealt under Indian Penal Code.
From this we can know wide variety of legislation, rules and regulation have been made but all the laws made are for safeguarding the rights of women. Specifically, in every law it has been mentioned that the law for domestic violence is for the women. There is no law for safeguarding the rights of men against cruelty or domestic violence. These are gender biased laws and their must be laws for saving men as well.
Grounds for underrepresentation of cases of Domestic Violence against Men.
In the patriarchal, male dominated society, men think it is shameful to be beaten by wife or being a victim of domestic violence. Under this societal pressure they often come up to report the violence. The pressure from the family also stops them from taking any legal action against her wife. Also, sometimes for the fear of being part from children also stop them from reporting violence. Mostly men are afraid of getting trapped in false accusation under 498-A of Indian Penal Code. Many men feel ashamed to complain about problems in their marriage that they are beaten by their wives and when they complain no one take them seriously or do not believe them.
The probable reasons for under reporting may be feeling ashamed, insults, fear, getting blamed, etc. Other probable reasons can be belief or hope that things might get better, protection, love towards children and family. If men will complain that the are beaten by their wives, that will be perceived as feminine behaviour in this patriarchal society.
Need for Gender Neutral Rules: Conclusion and Recommendation.
Being safe and treated in right way is the basic right of every citizen of India. Any violence can affect a person mentally, emotionally, and psychologically. Unreported cases against male can lead to divorce, depression and in extreme cases suicide. Despite the data being available that men are also victim under Domestic Violence, there no law that is formed by the legislature. All the laws against domestic violence are made for women. Supreme Court has already shown concern and to stop legal terrorism in for om misuse of these female biased laws such as 498-A of Indian Penal Code.
In cases where males are false accused due to female biased laws, there must be a legislation that can address to such false allegation. It is the need of the hour to bring into effect gender neutral laws and to implement laws that will treat both men and women equally. Difference must not be made while making laws for domestic violence as it can be considered as spousal violence. The family structure and society as a whole are evolving and so are the norms and values regarding gender violence. Domestic violence act is understandably made only for women. Data and research have suggested that male are also victims in domestic violence and being harassed by their spouse or family members. Therefore, necessary steps must be taken to end this lawlessness and obligatory amendments addressing violence against men must be made.
BBA LLB (BUSSINESS HONs)
4th YEAR, KIIT