Though India has a domestic violence law in place since 2006, it still remains exclusive to women.
By Sheikh Saquib
A men’s rights group based in India, Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF), informed that on average they receive 25,000 domestic violence cases per year.
Advocate at the Supreme Court of India and President of SIFF, Roopenshu Pratap Singh, argued that there is hardly any law for the protection of men’s rights. He said, “The problem is that no ministry is solely dedicated for the development of men. Every man that reaches out to us for help do not approach a police station to lodge a complaint against abusive wives because there is no such law under which their complaint can be filed. Even if they do, most times, the police do not take the matter seriously.”
Jagbir Singh and Anuradha Nadda in their study, A Cross-sectional Study of Gender-Based Violence against Men in the Rural Area of Haryana stated: “In a male-dominated society, men feel that it is shameful to be beaten by a woman and they do not report the violence.”
During the lockdown several local newspapers, like Jansatta (Madhya Pradesh) and Dainik Bhaskar (Bhopal) have been reporting about the increasing number of domestic violence cases. Indore, reportedly, tops the chart of number of calls received on Dial 100 by men who allege being harassed or abused at the hands of their wives with 74 calls, and Bhopal being the second with 52 calls.
The 2012 Supreme court verdict in Harsora v. Harsora case on the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (PWDVA), the words ‘adult male’ in Section 2(q) of the act was deleted, thus making the Domestic Violence Act, gender-specific instead of gender-neutral.
“We need gender-neutral laws in India. A crime is a crime. It cannot be associated with any gender. The court shouldn’t run on the presumption that if the case is man vs. woman, then the man is always the wrongdoer,” Singh from SIFF added. Hinting at the false cases of harassment and violence filed by women, he said: “Every accused is innocent until proven guilty, but on the other hand, in cases like these, the accused is presumed to be guilty until proven innocent.”
The National Family Health Survey, 2004, suggests that violence against men is not always inflicted by the female partner/wife but many times a male relative of the wife attacks or threatens the man. When physical violence and threats against men by wife’s relatives are taken into account, an estimated three crores of men are facing domestic violence in India.
Filmmaker Deepika Bhardwaj, speaking to The inUth, “reiterated that the law should be gender-neutral. She added: “If there is a physical injury or extreme domestic violence then both husband and wife should have recourse to that. If the husband uses it and wife misuses it, penalize that so that the law doesn’t become a tool for anybody.”
The study by Jagbir Singh and Anuradha Nadda also found that the prevalence of partner violence against men stands at 51.5 percent in India’s Haryana which is higher than the data collected for domestic violence under partner abuse state of knowledge project from the USA, Canada, and the UK, i.e., 19.3 percent. Out of 1000, 51.5 percent males experienced violence at the hands of their wives/intimate partner at least once in their lifetime and 10.5 percent in the last 12 months. The most common spousal violence was emotional 51.6 percent followed by physical violence six percent. Only in one-tenth cases, physical assaults were severe. In almost half of the cases, the husband initiated physical and emotional violence. Gender symmetry does not exist in India for physical violence.
In 2018, the National Crime Records Bureau data shows that a total of 1,34,516 suicides were reported in the country, out of which approximately 68 percent were males. Out of those, 70 percent were married.
Adding to that, Deepika Bhardwaj, men rights activist said, “Domestic violence has a psychological impact that is why we see so many married men committing suicide. I do not understand why people undermine domestic violence against men. Approximately, 800 acid attacks on women cases are reported on a year but we don’t dismiss it by saying that it’s less in number. We have to introduce a gender-neutral law which deals with men and women culprits equally.”
Image Credits: Change.org