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DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AGAINST MEN IN INDIA

Author: Reethamshi Kolipaka, IV year of B.B.A.,LL.B.(Hons.) from ICFAI Law School, Hyderabad.


In recent times, women are also earning, self-sufficient, and aware of their rights due to globalization and westernization. There is a structural change in the families due to socioeconomic conditions in society which is enabling women to recognize that they are not inferior to men.


The term “Domestic Violence” includes a broad range of violent acts committed by one member of a family or household against another[i]. It often refers to the mistreatment of a child or spouse, and includes not only physical harm but also threats and verbal, psychological, and sexual abuse.


Domestic abuse, also called "Domestic violence" or "intimate partner violence," is defined by the United Nations[ii] as a pattern of behaviour designed to establish or retain power and control over an intimate partner in any relationship. Abuse is defined as physical, sexual, emotional, financial, or psychological acts or threats against another individual. The relationship between the perpetrator and the victim is the crucial to the distinction between assault charges and domestic violence.


Domestic violence against women is well recognized by law in India. But the domestic violence against men is an issue that is never taken seriously. It is not recognized as a crime by Indian law. The laws against domestic violence in India are women centric and excludes the possibility that men can also be harassed by women.


As per Section 498A[iii] of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 only husband or relative of husband of woman can subject a woman to cruelty. Further it reads as “Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.” But there is no further provision which makes woman liable for spousal violence.


Section 3[iv] of the Protection of Women Domestic Violence Act, 2005 protects only women against domestic violence. But there is no such provision that shelters the men from the same violence.

Domestic Violence can be in the form of physically, mentally, emotionally, and psychologically affecting a person’s life in every way. As per the recent study by Malik and Nadda[v], emotional abuse is found to be the most common spousal violence followed by physical abuse.


Physical abuse includes slapping, pushing, hitting by spouse or their relatives, throwing objects at the spouse.


Mental abuse includes threatening to expose personal information to others, showing oppressive possessiveness or jealousy or threatening to harm themselves, forcing him to send his parents to old age home, Financial abuse includes taking all the earnings of the husband or giving allowance from his own earnings and refusing him to support his parents financially.


Psychological abuse also a form of mental violence includes criticizing the husband, name calling and using berating language; threatening or giving constant threats under false allegations of dowry and domestic violence. But all these forms of abuse against men goes unreported.


Lack of education, earning lesser income, one spouse earning higher income, unemployment, addiction, etc. are some of the major reasons of domestic violence against men in India.


The main issue in Indian society with domestic violence is that it is taken seriously once in a while. If it happens with women, it is ignored as something that women have to face because of gender and if it happens with men, it is considered unreasonable and illogical. We have to create an equal society where the spousal violence is wrong irrespective what the perpetrator’s gender is as any type of violence is gross violation of human rights.

Domestic violence cases against men in India goes unreported because of the following factors:

General stereotypes about men that they are strong and they are the protectors of the family. Fear of false cases against them and their family by women if they disclose or report the violence as the laws in India are gender specific. Fear of losing the custody of children due to the legal battle between them and their partner. Denial that domestic violence can only happen against women is one of the major factor for the under reporting the cases of domestic violence by men. Another main factor is labelling men as cowards, girlish and others when they try to expose their vulnerabilities.


As per NCRB Suicide Report, 2020[vi]total suicides in country were 153, 052 in which male suicides amount to 108,532 (70.9%) out of which 73, 093 were married men. It also reveals that suicide among men after marriage is rising and rising. This mainly due to the abuse they face in one or the other form from their intimate partner. And also lack of laws protecting the rights of men in case of violation of their human rights i.e. domestic violence against them by their intimate partner.


In conclusion, Human rights and gender equality belongs to both men and women. The term ‘Domestic Violence’ nowhere indicates that only women can be the victim of domestic violence, men can also be the victim and not only perpetrator. A victim of domestic violence is a victim irrespective of the gender of the perpetrator. Domestic violence should be now classified as spousal violence or intimate partner violence as men can also be the victim of the same. Along with legislations there is a need for the society to repudiate the idea of patriarchy and start to normalize men being sensitive and emotional.


It’s high time for the laws to be gender neutral. Apart from the absence of the law, societal norms also stop men from seeking justice. Patriarchy makes it appear that men can never face violence and this notion towards men make the victims and society to ignore or be silent about their sufferings. Being beaten up by a woman is perceived as a challenge to one’s masculinity. The patriarchal society which gives a man the power to subjugate a woman actually subverts his ability to call for help when faced with domestic violence.

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