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DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AGAINST MEN IN INDIA

Updated: Nov 26, 2022

This blog is written by Riya Singhal, student of UPES Dehradun.


Violence is denoted as the “use of physical force”[1] which results in injury, abuse, dominance, damage, or destruction. Further, talking about “domestic violence”, means violence, i.e., the use of physical force or any other abuse that occurs in a domestic setting[2], namely, marriage. The violence committed by one person in an intimate marriage relationship against the other person or between the partners. There are multiple forms of abuse, including verbal, sexual, economic, religious, reproductive, emotional, and physical abuse.


Globally, it is seen that domestic violence victims are mostly women. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1 in 3 women is subject to domestic violence at some point in their lives.[3]It is usually hard to imagine that men can also be victims of domestic violence, as India is a male-dominated society. There is a taboo that goes around the world or society that men are supposed to be strong and are generally taught to hide their emotions; if they do so, then they are called girly, unmanly, and many more terms.


Speaking about the statistics on domestic violence against men in India, “in the present study, 52.4% of men experienced gender-based violence.” Out of 1000 males, 51.5% experienced violence at the hands of their wives or intimate partners at least once in their lifetime, and 10.5% in the last 12 months. “The most common form of spousal violence was emotional (51.6%), followed by physical violence (6%).”[4]According to these statistics, most of the cases of domestic violence against men go unreported for the following reasons:


· Stereotypes against Men: As mentioned earlier, men feel uneasy about speaking up about the violence that they have gone through because they feel ashamed that they will be judged and will be called unmanly, girly, etc. As India is a male-dominated society, men feel that they have failed in the role of protector in nurturing their families.[5]


· Fear of fake cases: Because of the gender-biased or gender-specific laws in our constitution, most men think that they have left their houses or families if they reveal the violence.


· Societal and family pressure: There are mostly Indian families that live together even after their marriages, because of which most men feel ashamed of speaking up about the violence. Society is the one that brings gender-biased laws and stereotypes against a particular gender.


· Denial: As mentioned before, there is a taboo in society that domestic violence can only be with a woman, and people don’t believe it when they learn that men can also be victims of domestic violence.


There are situations in which women can harass men, like, a husband coming home from work tired and the housewife starts complaining, deliberately delaying meals, or making them prepare their food themselves. Forces the husband to send his parents to an old age home or threatens his in-laws to follow what their wife says. The situation is where the wife takes all the earnings of the husband and refuses to entertain or take care of his family or his elderly parents. Some wives also blackmail their husbands so that they will report false complaints against them of domestic violence, which makes the husband terrified as the complaints made by women are easily acceptable and actionable. These are some of how a woman harasses men.


The Constitution of India provides equal justice to all the citizens of India, but still, the laws are gender–biased. There were several cases in which it was seen that men were the ‘victims’ of emotional and mental harassment in matrimonial cases, and still there is no legal remedy in favour of men. There is no doubt that there is a long history of reported cases of violence against men, but being the victim of violence against men cannot be ignored.


Kimmel M. (2001), in his book “Male Victims of Domestic Violence”[6], said that domestic violence is one of the major problems and that men also suffer from it at the hands of their wives or intimate partners.[7] There were new laws, police procedures, and medical and forensic research that improved the conditions of men who suffered from domestic violence. After so much research, many political activists are now claiming that both men and women can be victims of domestic violence in mostly equal numbers. The “male gender activists”

Lorber. J. (1991), in his book, “The Social Construction of Gender”[8] explained that gender is aterm that is constructed by society and is influential. Also, this book explains various stereotypes and gender-biased discrimination towards both men and women. In this context, sex refers to what we inherit, such as male and female, whereas gender is what we learn.[9] Gender identity is something that is influenced by society, and it has almost nothing or very little to do with biological variables.


The sole section of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, that recognises domestic abuse against women as a crime is Section 498(A).[10] This section was introduced to prevent cruelty against married women by their husbands and in-laws, and lately, in this section, some alterations were made that resulted in including the husband’s relatives in this provision. This was due to the women’s attempts to harass men with false allegations, which have evolved into a weapon for them to exploit the legal system for financial benefit.


As per the law, there are two approaches todefense a man has in the situation of false allegations, which are:


1. A defensive approach when a man must defend himself and his family, he can go with the following steps:

· Collection of electronic evidence against his wife.

· Apply for anticipatory bail, the moment an FIR is lodged against the husband.

· There is a right under Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act[11] called Restitution of Conjugal Rights, which the husband can file.

· You can make a complaint to the police aboutblackmail or false allegations.


2. A husband can also take an offensive approach against his wife, such as:

· The biggest card that the husband has in his hand is Section 227 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.[12] If the husband has enough proof that the wife is making false allegations, he can file a complaint under this section.

· Under Section 120B of the Indian Penal Code,[13] the husband can claim that his wife is committing criminal conspiracy against him.

· Sections 167 and 182 of the Indian Penal Code[14], are used against the police officers who refused to file an FIR and/or helped the wife in making the false complaint.


· The husband can also file a defamation case against his wife as his reputation is damaged due to her false claims, under sections 500 and 504 of the Indian Penal Code.[15]

In the case, Arnesh Kumar vs. the State of Bihar[16] the wife claimed that dowry was demanded of her and that she was ejected from the matrimonial home for failing to comply. The husband attempted to get anticipatory bail but was denied. As a result, the husband filed a special leave petition with the SC.[17] It was held that because Section 498A of the IPC is a cognizable and non-bailable offense, it is used as a weapon by wives. That’s why the court established certain guidelines that a police officer must follow when making an arrest under Section 498A of the IPC or Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, and such an arrest must be on a reasonable basis.


Due to modernization and globalization, society's values, and norms have changed a lot. Earlier, the whole sole responsibility of the house or the family was on men, but nowadays, both men and women are working equally with equal contributions to their incomes. Men have now opened up about the domestic violence that they face, and now is the time that the statutes and laws too should recognize their problems as social problems or an issue. In India, domestic violence laws only protect women and not men. It gives the false presumption that men can only be criminals and not victims. So to curb these presumptions, there should be gender-neutral laws that will help the victims get remedies and punishment for the culprit, irrespective of its gender.[18]

[1] Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Violence (last visited Sept. 6, 2022) [2] Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domestic_violence (last visited Sept. 6, 2022) [3] Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domestic_violence (last visited Sept. 6, 2022) [4]Jagbir Singh Malik and AnuradhaNadda, A Cross-sectional Study of Gender-Based Violence against Men in the Rural Area of Haryana, India, 44(1), India J Community Med, 35, 35 (2019) [5]Ipleaders, https://blog.ipleaders.in/domestic-violence-men-india/ (last visited Sept. 6, 2022) [6]Kimmel M., Male Victims of Domestic Violence (2002) [7]Ipleaders, https://blog.ipleaders.in/domestic-violence-men-india/ (last visited Sept. 6, 2022) [8]Lorber. J., The Social Construction of Gender (1991) [9]Ipleaders, https://blog.ipleaders.in/domestic-violence-men-india/ (last visited Sept. 7, 2022) [10]Indian Penal Code, 1860, § 498(A), No. 45, Acts of Parliament, 1949 (India). [11]Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, § 9, No. 25, Acts of Parliament, 1949 (India). [12]Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, § 227, No. 2, Acts of Parliament, 1949 (India). [13]Indian Penal Code, 1860, § 120B, No. 45, Acts of Parliament, 1949 (India). [14]Indian Penal Code, 1860, § 167, 182, No. 45, Acts of Parliament, 1949 (India). [15]Indian Penal Code, 1860, § 500, 504, No. 45, Acts of Parliament, 1949 (India). [16]Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar, (2014) 8 SCC 469. [17]Lawinsider, https://www.lawinsider.in/columns/are-men-subjected-to-domestic-violence#:~:text=Section%20498A%20of%20the%20Indian%20Penal%20Code%2C%201860&text=Men%20who%20are%20subjected%20to,that%20relate%20to%20gender%20violence. (last visited Sept. 7, 2022) [18]Ipleaders, https://blog.ipleaders.in/domestic-violence-men-india/ (last visited Sept. 7, 2022)

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