The article analyses the issue of domestic violence against men and women in India. Domestic Violence is an age-old problem but the discussion around it has gained momentum only in the last decade or so.
The article deals with one of the most widely discussed issues in the last decade, Domestic Violence. It is always said that women suffer from violence, abuse, and mental torture at the hands of men and their families. For protecting the rights of women, there are laws based on domestic violence and marital cruelty.
Do we ever realize that it is not only women who have been sufferers under these circumstances, but it is also men who have been victims of violence? Not only violence but they very often accused of allegations that are untrue.
To stop domestic violence on both men and women, we need to understand the reason why it starts and find solutions for Intimate Partner Violence, considering them as humans and not taking sides based on gender biases and old thoughts.
II. Domestic Violence
We all agree that violence is something that cannot be refuted. The first word that comes to our mind after hearing “domestic violence” is “women”. i.e., what made her bear the harassment and why does she have to suffer it?
Do we ever realize that domestic violence is not just physical torture, but also mental torture? The point is that mental torture cannot be seen and it is never actually revealed. Until we see actual marks and injuries on someone’s body, we can never know if violence has ever occurred between a couple. This is what has been observed for ages.
When it comes to mental torture, society does not care about it as much as it should. Why? Because it’s considered a minor part of a relationship between partners. Steve Maraboli says “what we instil in our children will be the foundation on which they build their future.” It is rightly said because children learn what they see, and it plays a very important role in how they behave when they grow up. The next question is does human psychology change when we grow up as individuals?
If the brain is wired to hit another individual to show superiority, it is very difficult to instil the person with a new thought process.
III. Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)
When does INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE (IPV) start? Violence and abuse take place when the desire for superiority arises in the other partner. Also, one of the reasons why violence occurs is because the intimate partner shows their frustration of professional life on their significant other.
Our society has given reasons for violence that do not seek any sense in the eyes of law. Things such as short temper, poor self- control, low self- esteem, and too much alcohol intake cannot be the reason for violence and abuse. Someone who beats their partner is also a threat to society.
There have been people who claim that domestic violence in some cases is not that serious. Domestic violence is often misunderstood for physical torture but none of us has ever put a glance on our mental health. The reasons behind these horrific incidents can be considered petty. Hypocrisy has created a myth that the relation between a daughter-in-law and her in-laws should be a primary and important part of marriage. However, it is all about good relations between both the families.
IV. Women Suffering from Domestic Violence
The term domestic violence is used in many countries to refer to partner violence but the term also encompasses child or elder abuse or abuse by any member of the household. We should first mark in our mind that it’s not only the wife who is suffering from this horrifying state but “WOMEN” i.e., the female gender.
The term domestic violence is used in many countries to refer to partner violence but the term also encompasses child or elder abuse or abuse by any member of the household. We think that why don’t they leave their spouse. Not all women can take that step.
The reasons which exist have been prevailing in our society for ages- fear of retaliation, lack of alternative of economic support, concern for their children, lack of support from family and friends, stigma or fear of losing their children after divorce, and the hope for that partner will change.
Despite these stigmas, 19-51% of women leave their husbands. Yes, we do agree that a working woman can have a chance of leaving their partners but what about those women who are dependent on their husbands.
For example, we know that working women can leave their intimate partners, but have you ever imagined what their state of mind is? Though they are free from physical abuse, what about mental abuse? Is that easy for them?
Hopelessness and helplessness stop them and makes them bear the torture. The fact is that there is no single level of violence. Even a slap by a partner is said to be a violent act. Movies like Thappad (2020) and The Burning Bed (1964) clearly show the level of violence and abuses women suffer and how they have handled those acts.
V. Intimate Partner Violence on Men
The biggest myth is that only women suffer from intimate partner violence. Why is the fact that men can also be victims of domestic violence been normalized? Is the men and women ratio of victims the same? Do we have separate laws for men who suffer from IPV? Do w have movies based on IPV on men to create awareness? A coin has two sides. This shield for women has created some problems for men too.
Under Indian law, a woman can file a case of domestic violence basically under the Domestic Violence Act and other provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).
Section 3 of the Domestic Violence Act states that any act, omission or commission or conduct of the respondent shall constitute domestic violence in case it:
- harms or injures or endangers the health, safety, life, limb, or well-being, whether mental or physical, of the aggrieved person or tends to do so and includes causing physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal and emotional abuse, and economic abuse; or
- harasses, harms, injures or endangers the aggrieved person to coerce her or any other person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any dowry or other property or valuable security; or
- has the effect of threatening the aggrieved person or any person related to her by any conduct mentioned in clause (i) or clause (ii); or (iii) otherwise injures or causes harm, whether physical or mental, to the aggrieved person.
Men can seek restraining orders from courts, which restrain the abusive partner or wife from perpetrating abuse and even contacting the victim But there are no separate laws for men to register for IPV.
Men suffering from abuse and violence by their partner is much more than we can ever imagine. Almost 48.8% of men suffer from domestic violence; which is equal to women at 48.4% But only 20% of men register their cases. Why have men not been able to report these heinous acts?
This is because they are ridiculed by social stigmas. If a man is hit by a woman, his manliness is questioned by society and he is subjected to comments like “couldn’t handle a woman; what kind of man are you?”, but if he hits back the woman in his defence, then he has to face charges under domestic violence. If women are found to be victims of domestic violence, men are not immune to it.
Domestic violence on men is not a matter of laughter and can be deadly in some cases. Most of the time, domestic violence against men gets attention if we have a celebrity victim. Cases such as when Tiger Woods’ wife attacked him with a golf club or when Phil Hartman’s wife shot him as he slept are the only ones that are famously known to us.
Section 498A deals with ‘MARITAL CRUELTY’ to women. The simplest way to harass is to get the relatives of the husband roped in under this provision even if they are bedridden grandparents of the husband or relatives living abroad for decades. Over the years, the practice of women trying to trap men with false allegations has become a weapon for them to misuse the laws under domestic violence for monetary gains.
Justice Jayshree Thakur of Punjab and Haryana High Court stated that “it has become a common practice to use the provisions of Section 498- A IPC as a weapon rather than shield by disgruntled wives.”
Even after such acts, we know that domestic violence needs to stop for women as well as men, and think of both the genders as humans to come up with solutions in their favour.
We should not only find the solution but we should plan to stop it before it starts. Albert Einstein once said,” No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” One of the primary solutions to reduce this prevailing culture is that the partners keep their professional and personal lives separate and ethically share their work pressures.
It’s all about the development of healthy, respectful, and non-violent relationships and communities that has the potential to reduce the occurrence of intimate partner violence. If there are separate laws for women to file under domestic violence or marital cruelty, there should be the same laws and Acts for men to protect their rights under such circumstances too.
It is very important in today’s lifestyle that we as humans understand the need to respect one’s rights and freedom. Being in a democratic, republic country, we should agree that changes take place and they should be observed with the changing times.
Individuals must try to utilize the knowledge they gain during their education and understand that learning what they see is not always correct. The ones who have been doing such heinous acts on their intimate partners or any of their family members should put an end to it there and change their mindsets.
 Sushil Kumar Sharma v. Union of India,  W.P.(C) 14191/06
 Amarjit Kaur And Ors. v. Jaswinder Kaur, [ 2018] CRM-M NO13517