Why NFHS Should Change Their Surveys Following Johnny Depp Trial

With more than 100,000 men committing suicide every year as per NCRB data 2020, and with about 2.5 times more married men committing suicide compared to married women, a faulty survey by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is pushing us to the dark era of social destruction without proper policy framework created for saving our men. This discussion becomes relevant at a time when in The US actor Johnny Depp has won a massive $15M in compensation from his wife Amber Heard for publicly maligning his image through several articles in international media. Heard and women like her had it easy until Depp gave them a taste of their blood in the US court. However, Indian men cannot dream about such an outcome, thanks to a biased and archaic NFHS survey.

NFHS survey follows an archaic definition of domestic violence that excludes men from the realm of victimhood and only considers them as the perpetrator of domestic violence. The NFHS 5 survey published in March 2022 was no exception. In fact, it looks like the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of Govt. of India and International Institute of Population Sciences, Mumbai should grow up and revamp their survey of domestic violence to include men as the victims.

India’s Suicide Data 2020 – Source NCRB

This has become more relevant after the Johnny Depp trial in the US exposed the attitude of domestic abuser women to act like victims. With Heard telling multiple lies under oath and getting exposed not only by Depp’s lawyers but also by her own witnesses and third parties like a company that produced makeup kits. When she was the abuser herself, she wrote op-ed articles in leading international journals to gain icon status of all women domestic abuse victims. One point to note here is that she was punished for maligning Depp and not for unleashing domestic abuse on him. Even in a land of equal rights it was not possible.

So, all of us, the Indian MRAs who talk about gender-neutral laws are actually trying to gain some form of half-baked justice for men. Surely that will not be all. In India, the main problem is that our laws do not recognize men as victims like our domestic violence surveys. NFHS survey is the main source of data in domestic abuse cases and when that survey itself doesn’t consider men as victims, how can we expect Indian laws to be neutral at all. The suicide data of married men makes it all clear –

Suicide in India by Marital Status. NCRB 2020

A look at the findings of NFHS-5 survey regarding spousal domestic violence makes this bias clear.

Types of Spousal Violence – NFHS 5

If you look at the chart above, we find pushing and shaking her or throwing something at her is recorded as domestic violence against a woman. However, women doing the same to their husbands is not recorded as domestic violence. Especially when we know many men experience such behaviour from their wives as well.

Next in the chart is twisting her arm or pulling her hair. This too is very common form of abuse experienced by the husbands. Similar way you will find it to be true for other forms of violence mentioned above. In terms of attacking with weapons, women very often use their kitchen utensils, knives, belans etc. However, as the survey didn’t capture that information from men, we don’t know what percentage of Indian men suffer from those abuses.

Now imagine for a moment that Johnny Depp was an Indian and he suffered domestic abuse in India where his wife threw a bottle at him and broke his finger. That would have never classified as domestic violence against Johnny at all.

The argument very often given by the Indian feminists is what percentage of men may be facing that kind of abuse? Is it even a significant number? A simple argument to that we will never know the number until Indian men are asked how many of them were subjected to such domestic violence.

A survey done by us earlier on Indian men, however, revealed shocking truth domestic violence on men in India –

TMF study on Domestic abuse against Indian men

NFHS survey fails in capturing the real domestic abuse data. They do a shoddy job by asking women a question (Q # 1111 in NFHS 5 survey) if they had ever “hit, slapped, kicked, or done anything else to physically hurt” their husband. This is the only question NFHS-5 survey asks women to capture the data of domestic violence by women on men. However, why should women tell the truth of their committing domestic violence?

This question or for that matter NO question was ever asked to a male respondent about domestic violence against them by their wives in NFHS survey. That is why we have reason to disbelief NFHS 5 survey that said, about 10% women respondents have agreed to have initiating domestic violence.  

In this discussion we need to understand men’s and women’s perception of domestic violence as well. As is clear from the questions itself that women are told through NFHS survey that twisting their arm is domestic violence against them, but they are also told, it is only domestic violence against a man when he is hit/slapped/kicked etc. So, when the question starts with the severe words like ‘hit/slap’ etc. no one will think of pulling hair or twisting arm as an offence against men.

This is how the NFHS 5 question also misleads the respondents by design. Men are excluded from the entire gamut of domestic violence. However, for women NFHS 5 survey dedicated six (6) questions (from Q# 1105 to 1110) to understand domestic violence against them.

Specific questions were asked if the husband was –

  • Jealous/angry when she spoke with other men
  • Frequently accuses her of being unfaithful
  • Does not permit her to meet her friends
  • Tries to limit her contact with her family
  • Tries to know her whereabouts all the time  or
  • Does not trust her with money etc

This list makes one understand that many men face such issues from their wives as well. It is the wives who force men to live separately and that often lead to divorces. Wives trying to stop their husband from meeting friends or wives calling them frequently to know their whereabout is not unknown at all. But NFHS survey still perpetrate acute sexism and that becomes the basis of our Domestic abuse law.

Parting Thoughts

Very often foreign laws are cited in favour of creating new laws in India’s domestic sphere. However, when worldwide domestic abuse laws are becoming gender neutral the argument given in India is a very small percentage of men really suffer from Domestic violence and hence there is no law needed for them. But a low number of perceived cases can never be the argument for not having legal remedy for a crime happening behind the closed doors.

Today, even with sufficient evidence Indian husbands are not even heard in our courts. We see a flood of videos of women physically abusing men in streets openly for no reason. If they are doing it in public places, imagine what may be happening in closed doors. Amber Heard said on record that no one will believe Depp as he is a man. Many women today know the same and say the same to their husbands while perpetrating domestic violence. They know that they can still go to the court and file such false cases and cry victimhood to become an icon. This is how feminism works globally. Not all men have the money or fan following like Johnny Depp to even employ right lawyers and expect justice. Without NFHS mending their ways in designing their surveys, the justice to Indian men in domestic violence cases seems a distant dream.


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