On April 18, 2020, Dhananjay Pandey was found murdered in bushes in Dewariya, Uttar Pradesh. He was murdered by his wife Pushpa and her lover Ratan Pandey as he objected to their affair. On April 17, another husband Rajesh Singh was stabbed 25 times by his wife Reena because of her illicit affair in Muzaffarpur in Bihar. When Police enquired about the murder, their daughter shared how her parents quarrelled often over her mother’s affair. Reena had previously got Rajesh arrested after a police complaint because he objected to her affair but this time she conspired with her lover Manish and killed her husband brutally.
On April 10, Alwar Police arrested Ratni Yogi and her lover Lalaram from village Dwarapur for murdering Ratni’s husband Chotelal Nath because he objected to their affair. On March 30, Vinod Sharma from Gorakhpur was murdered by assailants when he went out to get essentials for home during lockdown as asked by his wife Pushpa. Little did he know the assailants were arranged by his wife herself, because she was having an affair with another man called Anoop Modanwal and wanted to get rid of him. During interrogation, as per media reports, Pushpa said she didn’t have any regrets over murdering her husband, father of her two children, because she got bored of him! What’s extremely painful in this case is that it is Vinod who got Pushpa educated during 14 years of their marriage, motivated her to become a teacher, only to be betrayed and killed by her eventually.
On April 4, news of murder of a young associate who worked in a private company in Noida was reported. The husband travelled to Village Khanda amidst lockdown to be with his wife and child. Vikram even walked 50Kms to reach home to be with his family. But his wife Rani who had an affair with her own cousin Aniket gave him sleeping pills in food just a day after he arrived and then slit his throat with blade. She along with her lover tried to give the murder a colour of suicide but injuries on Vikram’s body made everyone suspicious which led to police nabbing the two. In this case as well, Vikram was killed because he objected to his wife’s affair.
There are reports of #HusbandMurder by their wives even during the lockdown almost every second day. These are just news reports that I could gather. Real numbers must be way more than this! Murder is an extreme form of Violence. While we are seeing issue of domestic violence against women by men during lockdown being discussed everywhere globally, the violence on Men largely goes unnoticed, even though extreme. When there can be murders during lockdown, how can we be blind to domestic violence that men must be facing within their homes during lockdown? Even if we don’t overlook the other side, the fact remains that there are practically no provisions to safeguard men from abuse by their wives. If a man complains to police, instead of getting any help, he is told that there are no laws to protect him; what makes it worse is he is also asked to keep his mouth shut lest the wife files a criminal case of dowry and harassment against him and he along with his entire family lands in jail.
In last few days, since the lockdown began, several viral videos have shown women assaulting police personnel or ordinary citizens when they were stopped for defying lockdown or at checkpoints. In one video, a girl spat at a police officer questioning how he could stop a woman, in another a drunk woman broke a medical workers car, slapped him, threw stones at him and in another a woman tried to crush a cop’s leg with her scooty after fighting with him. There are endless videos of women misbehaving with guards on duty, hurling expletives, attacking both men and women in a fit of anger or after being caught breaking rules.
Watch One Such Video Below From Kolkata
Dear @narendramodi sir,
This is a sincere request. Pl make every crime gender neutral. Watch how the lady is spitting (licking) on @KolkataPolice to demonstrate her angst for being stopped and quuestioned @AmitShah @smritiirani @rsprasad #CoronavirusLockdown #21daylockdown pic.twitter.com/lW7IbKXvHA
— Men’s Day Out (@MensDayOutIndia) March 25, 2020
When women can publicly assault and misbehave so brazenly, what would stop them from doing this within their homes? Why do we believe that a woman cannot be abusive and violent towards a man? Why can’t we have domestic violence laws protecting him too? World over, most countries have Gender Neutral domestic violence laws. However in India, the laws are designed only for protecting women against domestic violence. What’s interesting to note here is that while a woman is given protection from violence by husband and even his family members through law like 498A that carries imprisonment of three years, a husband being attacked by his wife’s relatives, which happens very often, is not even a thought in lawmakers’ mind.
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Even though PWDVA (Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act) law was passed in 2005 when the world had progressed quite a lot on gender issues and the act essentially was drafted on lines of legislation in western world, the act was restricted to protection for women only in India even though the architect behind it, Indira Jaisingh is a renowned Feminist supposedly standing for Equality!
While the laws itself are biased, there is zero institutional support to male victims of Domestic Violence. There are various helplines that the government runs for women, but there is none where men can call and register their grievances if harassed by a woman or domestic partner. During Coronavirus Pandemic, various initiatives, special helplines have been announced by state governments to help women in distress but none for men. It’s like assuming that no man can ever be troubled by a woman.
In January 2020, The Telegraph in UK reported that attacks on family members by women have risen twice as fast as by men. Female perpetrators now account for 28 percent of all domestic violence cases registered in the UK as compared to 19 percent a decade ago. The number of attacks committed by females tripled growing from 27,762 in 2009 to 92,409 in 2018 as per data obtained by The Sunday Telegraph under the Freedom of Information Act ( similar to Right to Information Act in India.)
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UK has a gender neutral domestic violence act unlike India, hence this information can be accessed and analysed. The numbers are expected to be a small percentage of actual abuse men face because there’s huge stigma associated with men reporting abuse by women. The fear of disbelief and backlash from society, and the woman blaming the man instead, cripples men from reporting abuse world over.
During the Lockdown, two German States have set up hotlines specifically for men who are victims of domestic abuse or sexual violence. Bavarian Family Minister Carolina Trautner and North Rhine-Westphalia’s Equality Minister Ina Scharrenbach said in a Press Release as reported by the media,
With the hotline we hope to make an inroad in the struggle to tackle violence against men.
The ministers also called on other states in Germany to join the initiative. In Germany, figures from 2018 estimated that 18.7% of the victims of domestic violence between couples were male.
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India has no figures directly from agencies like National Crime Records Bureau on Domestic Violence on Men because of absence of laws. National Family Health Survey doesn’t include any assessment about domestic abuse of husband by wives while it diligently records various forms of domestic violence perpetrated on a wife by husband including verbal, physical, sexual and financial. When I filed an RTI Application with the agency to get number of women accused of murdering their husband, it responded that it doesn’t record gender of perpetrator while recording such crimes. So effectively we don’t have any data to quantify the scale of domestic abuse on men in India.
As per an online research I initiated in 2018, carried out by my colleague Vikas Malik, there were 140 cases of murder of husband by their wives in 150 days from March till August 2018. Major cause of these murders was attributed to extra marital affairs of the wife. In majority of these cases, wife murdered the husband herself by strangulation, administering poison, attack by blunt object or brutal assault.
None of these cases ever make it to headlines in news dailies. It is hard to believe that there would be no abuse, torture, mental or physical harassment of husband by wife before she murdered him. SIF-One, one of its own kind helpline (+91 8882 498 498) run for men by Save Indian Family Movement handled by volunteers across various states in India, receives thousands of calls every month by men in distress. As per the recent data released by Save Family Foundation and Men Welfare Trust, the helpline received about 68 calls every day and 1774 calls by men during the lockdown period alone.
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Amit Lakhani, President, Men Welfare Trust says,
We have received calls where wives have barred husband to enter his own house. Men are calling us about constant taunts, verbal and physical abuse they are facing from their wives despite helping out in house chores while also doing office work from home. A husband shared with us how his wife threw hot cup of coffee on him over an argument and then beat him up in front of his child. He had to move in with his parents with much difficulty during lockdown to escape the harassment.
Sadly Police doesn’t take these complaints or help husbands unless there is grievous hurt or attempt to murder. They ask these victims to approach court and unfortunately there’s no recourse for men even in courts. India should have a gender neutral domestic violence law.
Not only the authorities, even the society at large barely understands issue of domestic abuse of a man by woman because we consider men to be stronger than women both physically and emotionally. Stereotypes embedded in our minds about men are as strong as women, however, no one bothers about shattering these.
- If a man stops woman from working when she wants, it is considered domination, attack on dignity of a woman but if a woman forces a man to get a job with higher and higher salary and humiliates him for not being able to do so, it is rationalised
- If a husband puts restrictions on wife about meeting or helping her family, he is condemned, called control freak subjecting wife to mental harassment but if wife bars her husband from helping his siblings or keeping his elderly parents with him, it is not seen as harassment of the man
- If a man slaps a woman once it is assault on her dignity but if a woman beats the man up by slippers and sticks we start finding faults in the man only!
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In last few years, I have handled endless queries from men who allege harassment by their wife or girlfriends. First of all they hardly receive any support to escape from that suffering and secondly, they have to invariably pay a huge price to get out of those abusive relationships despite being the victim themselves.
Just few days ago, Ritesh (name changed) reached out to me sharing how his life has been made hell by his wife and her father who lives with them during the lockdown. His wife calls on police every other day alleging harassment by him when it is she who throws slippers, utensils, whatever she gets in her hand at him and abuses him throughout the day.
Even though he makes videos of all these assaults and abuses, when police comes, they ask him instead to adjust rather than saying anything or warning the wife. The dispute between Ritesh and his wife has gone on for years and even though his wife wants to divorce him, she refuses to leave the property he bought with his own money, unless he gives her Rs 10 crore rupees (USD 1.5m approx) as one time alimony. They have no child!
Domestic Violence against men is a reality that needs to be looked at seriously in a country like India —especially in times like these when we say victims of domestic violence have been locked inside homes with their monsters because — Monsters Do Not Have A Gender!
About the Author
Deepika Narayan Bhardwaj is an Independent Journalist and a documentary filmmaker. Her documentary Martyrs of Marriage on misuse of IPC 498A or the anti-dowry law in India is now available on Youtube.
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