The patriarchal thinking that “Mardko Dard nahihota” (Men do not feel pain) eulogizes and patronizes the emotional castration of boys from a very young age which teaches them to tolerate abuse and feel glorified about making sacrifices. Owing to this social conditioning, a vast majority of victimized men wear a plastic smile and hide their scars and suffer in solitude.
Domestic Violence is a serious social issue, but men who face domestic violence in India have nowhere to go since the law doesn’t treat them as victims. In most countries in the world, the laws against domestic violence protect both men and women. Men can also seek restraining orders from courts, which restrain the abusive partner or wife from perpetrating abuse and even contacting the victim. Whereas in India, family violence against men is almost legal as there is no provision in any law to protect a man, who faces violence from his wife or other female family members. There are several cases where a husband has been battered, abused, tortured by his wife in connivance with her own family. Many a time the violence is so brutal that the husband suffers extreme injuries, in some cases, he is killed as well.
Types of Violence:-
Domestic violence has been recognized across the world as a form of violence that affects a person’s life in every way, physically, mentally, emotionally, and psychologically, and is a violation of basic human rights.
This can include slapping; pushing; hitting my wife, her parents, or relatives; or throwing objects like utensils, cell phones, and crockery at the husband.
In emotional violence, the men were insulted in front of others and threatened or hurt. It can also be in the form of mental abuse such as constant threats to the husband and his family under false allegations of dowry and domestic violence.
This can happen if the husband denies sex. At home or the workplace to avoid punishments or to get some rewards, men too can be involved in sexual activity by force.
In many states of India, a young man with good qualifications and income is abducted and forced to marry without his consent. False rape and other charges such as molestation are also common. Since law and society always traditionally favour females as the weaker sex, many a time, false complaints of sexual abuse/rape are lodged against men.
Human rights and gender equality belongs to both men and women. In today’s times where men are falsely accused of rapes, domestic violence, and sexual assault, gender-neutral laws are needed for the hour. Domestic violence, this term nowhere indicates that only women can be the victim of domestic violence, men can also be the victim and not the only perpetrator. Domestic violence should be considered as spousal violence as it is not only restricted to women.
Besides women, men also experience gender-based violence in India. Most women experience violence so there is a stereotypical assumption among people that domestic violence is gender-specific which is not correct. India is a patriarchal or male-dominated society, so it is often hard to believe that even males can be victims of domestic violence.
Most parents of women blame the son-in-law for the breakdown of the marriage, without accepting that their daughter is abusive or she has serious anger management issues. They somehow think their daughter can never be wrong and expect the son-in-law to tolerate her. They get violent at their son-in-law to teach him a lesson or seek revenge.
Police rarely accept any complaints filed by the husband about the violence he is suffering, claiming that this is a family issue. They also refuse to provide any protection to the man.
In cases where men are falsely accused of violence or dowry, a law that can address these false allegations is the need of the hour. Human rights and gender equality should include both men and women. Domestic violence should be considered spousal violence and must not be differentiated due to gender.
There are many reasons for which men often do not reveal the violence they face by their spouses or by their intimate partners.
General Stereotypes against males– Men often feel discriminated against or feel uneasy in opening up about the violence that they face because they feel ashamed that they will be judged and will be labelled as wimpy and effeminate. They think their struggle against violence will go in vain because of gender-specific laws and provisions that are given in the Indian Constitution. They feel that they have failed the role of protector in nurturing their families.
Fear of fake cases– Men often feel that revealing the violence can cause unnecessary nuisance and they do not want to face the legal consequences because of the gender-biased or gender-specific laws in our Constitution. They feel that they have to leave their families and they don’t want to lose custody of their children which is often a cumbersome process.
Societal and family pressure– Most of the Indians continue to live with their families even after their marriage. Because of this factor, men feel ashamed of opening up about the violence. Society also plays a crucial role in nurturing gender biased laws and stereotypes against a particular gender.
Denial– Most people feel that domestic violence can only happen to a woman. And they live in denial when they get to know that man can also be a victim of domestic violence. So, people never really want to talk about it.
Any type of violence whether physical or mental is a gross violation of human rights. Unreported and unsaid cases of domestic violence can ultimately lead to separations, bitter fights, divorces, depression, and even suicides. Many women have serious anger management issues and because of this they become aggressive, and verbal or physical abuse takes place. Women facing stress at the workplace have frustration and anger due to nonfulfillment of expectations and thus also can indulge in violent behaviour. Financial constraints due to the husband’s poor income and/or more income by wife may also be one of the factors leading to violence.
Kimmel M. (2001) in his book on ‘Male Victims of Domestic Violence’ said that domestic violence is one of the major problems and men also suffer from domestic violence at the hands of their wives or intimate partners. The policymakers should keep in mind the policies related to domestic violence that made policies and laws mainly focusing on women.
Lorber. J. (1991) in his book, ‘The Social Construction of Gender’ explained that gender is socially constructed and is influenced by many factors. People often misunderstand the term gender and sex. They are quite different. In the book sex refers to what we inherit, such as male or female and gender is what we learn. Gender is nothing but a device that is used by society to control its members. Gender sometimes as social class and race can be used to make stereotypes and prejudices against people. Prejudices are a set of attitudes that are offensive to one section of society, while discrimination is the overt negativity towards a person depending on his superfluous identity.
The Indian men’s rights movement was started in 1988 in Delhi by Supreme Court advocate Ram Prakash Chugh to handle psychological abuse perpetrated by wives and false claims of dowry harassment by wives. The movement began as an organisation called “Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Husbands”.
Vaastav is one such NGO that was launched on November 19, 2013, for the different men’s rights groups in Mumbai, the Indian Family Foundation, Borivli; Protect Indian Family Foundation, Mulund; MASHAAL (Mothers And Sisters of Husbands Against Abuse of Law).
Men can protect themselves and their family from being sent to prison given the false complaint. They have the following alternatives to safeguard their family and themselves:
The husband has a right to file a petition for divorce with or without mutual consent. These include cruelty, desertion, conversion, adultery, disease, mental disorder, renunciation and presumption of death.
Record all conversations (voice, chat, email, letters, and so on) with those threatening and keep the originals in a protected place and not produce the actual evidence before anybody
Gather evidence to demonstrate that they have neither demanded dowry nor have accepted it nonetheless.
Gather evidence to demonstrate that the wife moved out of the obligation of marriage for no legitimate explanation.
This evidence will be productive at the time of getting anticipatory bail or notice bail from the Court.
Document RCR (Restitution of Conjugal Rights)- Suppose the wife has left her husband’s place after all the threatening. In that case, men can file RCR (Restitution of Conjugal Rights) referencing the conditions that she ought to concur on before she begins living with her husband once again.
Men can file counter cases against their wife to present the defence stronger and expect an earlier settlement.
The following is a rundown of counter cases they can file to reinforce their case.
Section of 120B IPC, 1860:
Punishment of Criminal Conspiracy – Husbands can file a case against their wife alleging that she is conspiring to commit a crime against him and his family.
Section 167 of IPC, 1860:
Public servant outlining a wrong document to cause injury – If the husband believes that the police officers are helping their wife in submit a false complaint and framing false documents, he can file a case against them claiming their false framing of documents.
Section 182 of IPC, 1860:
False information, with the intent to cause a public servant to utilize his legal capacity to the injury of someone else – What usually happens is that the public servant in his power accomplishes something which probably won’t be a reality, so, false information is circulated to depress the evidence.
Section 191 of IPC, 1860:
Giving false evidence – If the husband presumes that his wife or anyone is introducing false evidence against him in the Court of law or police headquarters, he can file a case asserting that the evidence which is being utilized to prosecute him is false, which consequently make the total charges false.
Section 197 of IPC, 1860:
Issuing or signing a false certificate– Perjury is a crime; one can’t sign a false certificate and claim it to be valid. Consequently, if somebody suffers due to some wrong certificate, he can prove himself innocent after showing adequate evidence.
Section 471 of IPC, 1860:
Using as genuine a forged [document or electronic record]. Whoever falsely or unscrupulously utilizes as genuine any [document or electronic record] which he knows or has the reason to accept to be a forged [document or electronic record], will be punished similarly as though he had manufactured such [document or electronic record].
Section 500 IPC, 1860:
Defamation – Reputation is one’s greatest treasure. So on the off chance that somebody attempts to defame a person, he/she may use any, and all means that can drag them to Court for the harm endured due to their ill conduct. They will be qualified to pay the harms by monetary terms.
Section 506 of IPC, 1860:
Punishment for Criminal Intimidation – The husband can file a case against his wife, claiming that she threatens him to hurt himself or his family or property. Yet again, the evidence is the only thing that can uphold his case.
Section 227 of Cr.P.C., 1973:
If the husband believes that the complaint filed by his wife is false, he can file a complaint under section 227 expressing that the 498-A case filled by his wife is bogus. In case that he has enough evidence, or on the off chance that the wife needs more proof to substantiate the charges, the chances are that the judge excuses the 498-A case as it is a framed one.
Section 9 of CPC, 1908:
Damage recovery case – If the wife breaks into the husband’s home, makes a scene, and goes to ‘protection official’ and falsely claims that the husband tortured her ’emotionally, physically or monetarily’, the husband can file a damage recovery case under Section 9 of CPC against his wife. Legitimately, he should give notice around the same time or the following day. The suit will proceed for quite a while.
Narendra v K.Meena (Civil appeal no. 3253 of 2008, decided on 2016)
The Supreme Court of India had decided that the coercion or forcing the husband to leave his parents (who are dependent on his income) amounts to cruelty on part of the wife, therefore can be a strong ground for divorce under Hindu Law.
Raj Talreja v. Kavita Talreja, 2017
In the present case, there were false allegations made by the wife against the husband. The court held that this amounts to mental cruelty and can be a ground for divorce.
In Arnesh Kumar v. the State of Bihar, (2014), in an endeavour to guarantee that police officer doesn’t capture the charge pointlessly, and Magistrate doesn’t approve detainment nonchalantly and precisely in cases under Section 498-An IPC, the Court gave certain directions (nonetheless, the directions apply additionally to different situations where the offence is guilty with the detainment of not more than seven years) which include:-
Police officials not consequently arrest the accused when a case under 498-An IPC is registered. They ought to satisfy themselves about the necessity to arrest under parameters moving from Section 41 CrPC (the judgment sets out the parameters).
Police officials will fill the checklist (containing indicated sub-clauses under Section 41(1)(b)(ii) CrPC) and furnish the reasons and material requiring the arrest.
The Magistrate will approve confinement exclusively after recording its fulfilment on the police officers’ report outfitted.
If the police officers neglect to comply with the directions, they will be at risk for departmental action and court contempt.
Failure of the Judicial Magistrate to comply with the directions will make him liable for departmental action by the suitable High Court.
Rajesh Sharma v. The State of U.P., 2017– In this case, the Supreme Court offered directions to prevent abuse of Section 498-An IPC, which were additionally altered in Social Action Forum for Manav Adhikar v. Association of India, 2018.
These directions include:
Complaints under Section 498-A and other associated offences might be examined exclusively by an assigned Investigating Officer of that area.
If a settlement is made between the parties, it is available to them to approach the High Court under Section 482 looking for seeking quashing of proceedings or some other request.
If a bail application is filed within at least one day’s notice to the Public Prosecutor/complainant, the same might be decided as far as possible around the same day. Recovery of disputed dowry things may not, without help from anyone else, be a ground for refusal of bail if maintenance or different rights of wife/minor children can, in any case, be secured.
Concerning people normally living out of India, appropriating passports or issuance of Red Corner Notice ought not to be a daily practice.
Recently, Reinstating a suspended officer who had suffered cruelty and voluntary desertion by his wife, the Madras high court bemoaned the lack of legal provisions akin to the Domestic Violence Act for a husband to proceed against his wife. The court then observed: “Husband and wife must realize that, ‘ego’ and ‘intolerance’ are like footwear and should be left out of their house, when they enter the home, else, the child/children will have to face a miserable life.”
A myth- Domestic Violence is when a man hits a woman
In recent times due to modernization and westernization, societal values, culture, norms have changed a lot. Earlier men were seen as protectors of their family but nowadays both men and women are equally working, raising and managing their homes with equal contribution to their incomes. Men have now opened up about the domestic violence that they face and now they have started sharing their pain, agony, and their struggles openly. It gives a false presumption that men can only be the perpetrator and not the victim. Domestic Violence against men is gradually increasing day by day. Every person have a right to live with dignity and to be respected equally irrespective of gender. The right to fair trial of Article 21 mandated that cases should not be decided on stereotypes. Hence, special provisions and amendments are required to make gender-neutral laws that will help the victims in getting remedy and punishment for the culprit irrespective of gender.