Let me confess that until some time ago even I would have thought like you unless I read Indian Domestic Violence Act, 2005 myself. So before you form any opinion or believe me, please read the DV ACT yourself to understand this.
To analyze this further, we need to first understand what constitutes domestic violence. If I ask you the definition of Domestic Abuse probably you will say it is beating / physical violence on someone else. However, when you read this act you will know that this is a combination of different forms of violence. Under this law, the “aggrieved person” is defined as “any woman who is…” and it does not include men. So this law says only women can be victims of domestic violence and hence we don’t see any cases of DV on men being reported.
Many of you may think this as true as you may think that men are physically stronger and hence protecting women is more justified. So now I will take you through the legal definition of domestic violence so that you know that any two people living together in a domestic situation are liable to experience any one or more of these forms of violence.
Domestic violence is defined under four broad categories as follows –
- Physical Abuse
- Sexual Abuse
- Verbal and Emotional Abuse and
- Economic Abuse
I am sure most of you might not have known about last three cases of abuse being a part of domestic violence. Now let me elaborate each one through the legal definition –
In this ACT, physical abuse means – causing bodily harm, danger to life, limb or health or development of the aggrieved person. This includes assault, criminal intimidation, and criminal force.
Many of you may think that normally men are more violent and women are NOT and hence the definition of aggrieved person as ‘woman’ is right. Do you really think women are not violent? Can’t they express themselves? Didn’t you see those fights on streets? If you think that percentage will be nominal and negligible even without any data to support you, I will not agree with you but still move on as domestic abuse has a much wider perspective. But remember when we say only a negligible number of men suffer physical violence without even giving men a chance to file a case under DV ACT to understand how negligible that percentage is, actually not fair.
The definition of sexual abuse says – “conduct of a sexual nature that abuses, humiliates, degrades or otherwise violates the dignity of a woman”. This definition clearly denies justice to men and indirectly says that abuse, humiliation or violation of dignity cannot happen to a man. Shocking enough!
If you think sexual violence can’t happen to men, then think whether a woman can ever deny having sex with his husband? Think if any woman can ever abuse her husband either for over demanding sex or not satisfying her with enough sex? If you think any of the above two situations are possible in a married life, then you need to agree that sexual abuse against men is also a reality. Unfortunately, under the definition of this law, it is not a crime if committed by a woman. So if there is a mismatch in sexual drives between the man and the woman the man becomes either a rapist or impotent. In this way, we only ignore this form of domestic violence against men.
Verbal and Emotional Abuse
This definition includes – “Insult, ridicule, humiliation, name-calling or especially insult for not having a child” or “repeated threat to cause physical pain to any person to whom the aggrieved person is related”.
Now think about this. Do you think women can’t insult, ridicule or humiliate others? If you are a man didn’t your wife ever in your married life ridiculed you? Didn’t she ever insult you for a bad sex, or for bad breath or for being out with friends or maybe for being too close to your mother? If you can think of any situation where as a man even once your wife has insulted, ridiculed, humiliated you then you were subjected to domestic violence by your wife.
If you think all of these is just a part of our daily life and knowingly or unknowingly we all do it, sometimes to pull other person’s leg or maybe just for some good laughs and if you think without some of these light-hearted banters we can’t even think of our lives, you need to understand all these can actually be termed as spousal abuse against a man by a woman.
Let’s consider the second part of this emotional abuse – ‘repeated threat to cause physical pain to any person in whom the aggrieved person is interested’. Well, did your wife ever beat your children? Did she ever throw utensils at you or any of your family members or did she ever threaten to kill herself? Many wives give suicide threat to their husbands very often just to intimidate them. It may so happen that over a period of your domestic relation this threat might have come many times and always you thought it was your problem. Actually, it was domestic violence against men (or the husband) by the wife.
The definition of economic abuse under this law is – “deprivation of all or any economic or financial resource to which the aggrieved person is entitled under any law or custom”. So if the husband earns money and doesn’t pay wife that is domestic violence. However, if the wife earns and does not pay the husband that is not because women do not have the responsibility to contribute financially to the family. In fact, women have no defined responsibility in their family today
So you understand that if your wife is working and is not contributing to the family under a fair legal system that would have been considered as domestic violence against a man.
Now let’s consider another scenario. How many times did your wife go on shopping and ended up spending extra money to buy unnecessary stuff? Do you understand that it was domestic violence by the wife against the husband? This is the money that the husband has earned so has full right over it, but was denied use of it because the wife has spent it. Under this definition, this act by the wife should also be called domestic violence against the husband. However, since only a woman can be aggrieved in this law, the husband is NOT considered as a victim even when his own money is misappropriated.
Definition of economic abuse continues as “disposal of household effects, any alienation of assets …in which the aggrieved person has an interest….” Here it is considered that wife has interest in husband’s ancestral property or other movable or immovable property but the husband has no interest in wife’s property as the definition of ‘aggrieved party’ itself is a woman. Also, any interest shown on wife’s property by the husband is considered as dowry whether the opposite is considered as a woman’s rights.
So if your wife has disposed off any of her valuables (say ornaments) without telling you or alienated you from her assets (e.g. her parental property and given the property to her brothers instead), that would have also considered as domestic violence against you (husband) if we had a fair definition of the law.
The third part of this definition says “prohibition or restriction to continued access to resources or facilities which the aggrieved person is entitled to use or enjoy by virtue of the domestic relationship…” Consider this – Did your wife has ever made you sleep outside your bedroom or asked you to watch that boring Saas Bahu serial instead of your Cricket match or share market news on TV? I am sure the answer to this question by an overwhelming majority of men would be in affirmative. What these men would not understand that their wives had simply prohibited their access to shared resources. It was actually domestic violence against men.
We understand that it is not only the women but almost every man in India is subjected to spousal abuse of different forms. There is urgent need to consider this crime as gender-neutral because if we consider women as human beings, we also need to consider that they can be abusive, torturer and extremely cruel, too.
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