Domestic Violence Against Men: A reverse story

Published by The News Today on 21st September, 2016 (Link Above)

Tawfiq has been married for three years. In the beginning, things started out almost like any other relationship but soon everything started to change gradually. Soon, it became more explicit when his wife started complaining about many of his personal issues like his clothes were not attractive, his hobbies are silly and his look is not flattering etc. She started abusing him with silence or mean-spirited words. She criticized him and blamed him for everything that went wrong in the relationship. Her anger, over-reactions, mood swing over the trivial things continued. The mental abuse by his wife was constant and extensive. There was seldom an apology from her side but with no change in her behaviour. Tawfiq started doing everything to impress his wife. He tried to change who he was, making things more agreeable to her. Nevertheless, he was verbally and psychologically battered and abused and has been threatened with bodily harm. His wife was a woman of an incredibly short temper. Soon all his dreams of the future turned into his worst nightmare. She became jealous when he phoned or visited his friends and family. She accused him of having interest in other women and started spying on him. She always belittled him and his capabilities to maintain her comparing with her friends’ husbands. He constantly felt suffocated, manipulated & intimidated by her anger and verbal abuses. Tawfiq was raised in a family where he has always been taught to respect women with dignity. He was hesitant to share his miserable story to anyone as they might not believe him as they probably haven’t experienced anything like these. He could not even imagine to lodge any complain to law enforcing agencies as he felt that it may bring disrespect and shame to his wife and his family. Violence against women is considered one of the worst forms of human rights violation around the world. The Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act was enacted in Bangladesh in the year 2010 to prevent and provide protection for women against domestic violence. The Act defines domestic violence as any physical abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse or economic abuse of a woman by any member of the family. Like physical abuse any insult, ridicule, humiliation or threats of any nature or making any utterances that may cause mental harassment, controlling behaviour such as restrictions on mobility, communication or self expression by any member of the family will also constitute a domestic violence. However, our judicial system, legal system or Government does not do anything to help a man who is subject to domestic violence from his wife. There is no special law for men. Tawfiq tried to please his wife, because he loves her, but everything he did seemed to be wrong to her. He was hesitant to tell anyone about his unhealthy relationship as he was ashamed, even though it wasn’t his fault. He tried to change his views to suit her. He became too much dependent on his wife’s approval and opinion that he had forgotten to live. He realized that no amount of love, care and support will be able to fix this behavior unless she has the desire to change her attitude. Imagine if the situation was reversed: the husband is doing the same to his wife. Perhaps the wife could get immediate help and support from the law enforcing agencies as there are several laws to protect women. When man creates violence on a woman, people tend to be convinced more because they think ‘boys will be boys’. But in our society women are stereotyped as sensitive and passive and they are not expected to be violent. It is true that the percentage of woman victim of domestic violence is larger than the male victim. But the idea has to be changed. Most acts of violence are taken place behind closed doors. Therefore, the batterers could be man or woman. There is a special law namely Women & Children Repression Prevention Act 2000 (Nari O Shishu Nirjatan Daman Ain) to protect women and children from violence. This Act is considered as one the most potentially effective laws for addressing violence against women. This Act contains several provisions for prevention of offences related to oppression on women and children. Under Women and Children Repression Prevention Act special Tribunals have been established in 33 districts of the country and a special judge has been posted to each tribunal for trying cases relating to violence against women and children. The Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act has also been designed only to protect the rights of women and children. But, if it would be a general law protecting the rights of every citizen irrespective of gender, it would be more beneficial for all citizens.