DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AGAINST MEN IN INDIA

INTRODUCTION

As the case of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard is set for trial, once again the world is concerned about domestic violence against men. In the view of the whole world, several countries and jurisdictions penalize domestic violence against men. In contrast to this view, there are several other countries which even didn’t recognize and accept that there is anything like domestic violence against men. The reason may be that these countries are male-dominated. One of those countries is India. Being a patriarchal/male-dominating society, women have suffered domestic violence in the past. Domestic violence commonly includes various types of abuse such as physical, sexual, emotional, and verbal abuse. This was due to the male prevailing dominance in society and the power imbalance against women. But now, as the power dynamics are changing in the country and society, this problem is reversing back to men. As a result, domestic violence is taking place against men. This is due to shifting power structures, economic independence, and control over resources. There are many reasons for this change in the victims of domestic violence, as various studies show. The result of one of those studies concluded that changing women’s roles, power, and status are some of the reasons. Now, women are self-sufficient and aware of their rights. These factors, together with education, changing values and norms, and gender roles, enable women to recognise that they are not inferior to men and that, in certain circumstances; they can be stronger than men.

Scenario in India

As one talks about domestic violence, the first word that comes to the mind of any common man in India is “women”. This is due to the record of domestic violence incidents in the country in various palaces. But contrary to this thought, one more reason is that spousal abuse does not affect only one gender. The general assumption or preconceived notion that has persisted in our society since the onset is that men are supposed to be strong, mighty, and bottle up their emotions. This makes “domestic violence against men” unreasonable and illogical to the common man. One more notion prevailing in this culture is that when men show or expose their vulnerabilities, they are labelled as cowards, girlish, and a variety of other derogatory terms. As time and society are growing, this notion is also changing, and now people are also getting the seriousness of the matter. India has strict laws for the protection of women from any kind of violence by their spouse or by any other person, but it lacks any legislation for men doing so. There is no such official reported data on domestic violence against men, based on which one can conclude that domestic violence is prevalent in Indian society. All the conclusions are drawn by taking reference from the studies conducted by some of the NGOs. One more source for drawing this conclusion is the National Crime Record Bureau Suicide Report 2020, published on October 28, 2021. “The study by Save Family Foundation, which interviewed 1,650 husbands between the ages of 15 and 49 years, selected through random sampling using a schedule adapted from the WHO multi-country study on husband’s health and domestic violence, reports that economic violence (32.8%) is common, followed by emotional violence (22.2%), physical violence (25.2%), and sexual violence (17.7%).”[1]

The findings of the NCRB suicide report are as follows:

Total suicides in the country: 153,052. In which males were 108,532 (70.9%), females were 44,498 (29.1%) and transgenders were 22. This data was 0.7% more in number on the male part and 0.7% less on the female part than the data of suicides done in 2019. If we look deeper into the record based on marriage, then we will find that there were 73,093 married males and 28,085 married females who committed suicide. And according to the NCRB, family problems have the biggest share in the suicide causes of both men and women, i.e., 33.6%. It will be unjustifiable to conclude merely from this data on the topic of domestic violence against men. But it shows that men are also victims, no less than women. NCRB also stated that men’s suicide after marriage is rising and rising.[2]

How Men are Harass by Women?

When a husband gets back home tired from work, his wife begins to complain, as Indian women are known for whispering and yelling. Most Indian wives are housewives, and when husbands return home after work, they deliberately delay meals, and some husbands also prepare food for themselves. Also forces man to send his parents to an old age home. Many men are also threatened by their brother-in-law or father-in-law to do what their wife says. The wife takes all of her husband’s earnings and refuses to entertain his family or care for his elderly parents. She makes her husband pay for her family and stops providing financial support to his family. These are some of the methods that wives use to harass their husbands. Some wives also blackmail their husbands so that they will do false complaints against them of violence. This makes the husband more terrified as these complaints are easily acceptable and actionable. Our police and judicial systems are very critical in handling these types of cases, and there is no such help to the defendant because of the prevailing thesis of men as perpetrators.

Biased Laws in India

Due to various gender biased laws, there is also a misuse of them. According to NCRB data, about 8% of all cases reported as rape after investigation were found to be false. The same data also shows that acquittals were obtained in approximately 74% of rape cases under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code. When we talk about this data, we call it a false allegation. But they should be referred to as misuse of the law against men. The situation is like this because of the biased laws prevalent in the country. One can easily see how these laws presuppose the defendant as guilty and the burden of proof lies with the defendant to prove their innocence.

The law protecting women, how it is biased in favour of women, and how it is occasionally abused by women-

Section 498A of the IPC (Indian Penal Code)[3]:- Only a man can be held responsible for his cruelty to his wife. But here, there are no subsections or provisions in the statute that make a woman liable for intimate partner violence.

Section 3 of the Domestic Violence Act[4]: – Only protects women against domestic violence. There is no provision in the whole act safeguarding men from the same violence. The presumption of this rule and other such rules in India is that men are wrongdoers and women are the sufferers. It is beyond doubt that women have suffered extreme violence at the hand of men. But this does not give any justification for not having any laws protecting men against such violence.

Why Domestic Violence against Men Goes Unreported?

There are many reasons why men often do not disclose the violence that they face from their spouses or intimate partners. Some of those reasons are mentioned below:

Male Stereotypes in General– It is a general assumption that men are strong and hard to cry. But now, many times, men feel discriminated against. They get uneasy and restless when they speak out about the violence they face at the hands of their wives. It is because they are afraid of being judged by the people as cowards and effeminate. Men believe that their fight against violence will not have any effect because of gender-specific laws and provisions protecting women in the country. They gradually develop the belief that they have failed in their role as protectors in raising their families.

Fear of false cases– Men believe that disclosing the violence or reporting it will cause unnecessary inconvenience to themselves and their families. They also do not want to face the legal consequences, as it is hard for them to fight because of the gender-biased or gender-specific laws in the country. They believe it would result in leaving their wife and children. They do not want to lose custody of their children, which can be a difficult process keeping in mind the laws. Sometimes men are falsely fabricated for violence against their wives.

Social and familial pressures– The majority of Indians continue to live with their families after marriage. Because of this factor, men are embarrassed to talk about violence. The society also plays an important role in perpetuating gender-biased laws and stereotypes against a specific gender.

Denial– Many people believe that domestic violence only happens to women. And they live in denial when they learn that men can also be the victims of domestic violence as well. So, in general, no one wants to talk about it.

Conclusion

Both men and women have the right to human rights and gender equality. Gender-neutral laws are urgently needed in today’s world, where men are falsely accused of rape, domestic violence, and sexual assault. Domestic violence is a term that does not imply that only women can be victims; men can also be victims and are not the only perpetrators. Domestic violence should now be classified as spousal violence because it does not only affect women it also affects men the same way. Domestic violence laws in India only protect women and not men. It creates the false impression that men can only be perpetrators and not victims. Domestic violence against men is increasing. As a result, special provisions and amendments are required to create gender-neutral laws that will assist victims in obtaining remedy and punishment for the perpetrator, regardless of gender. Domestic violence, which is still prevalent in our society, requires specific laws and amendments to protect both spouses.

Author(s) Name: Mayank Patel (Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, Lucknow)

References:

[1] Sarkar, S., Dsouza, R., & Dasgupta, A. (2007). Domestic violence against men—a study report by Save family Foundation.

[2] NCRB Suicide Report 2020

[3] Indian Penal Code 1892, s A.

[4] Domestic Violence Act 2005 s3,