Men also face violence but...

Men against violence-5

By Nasiruddin Haider Khan, Dhaka

Do the men also face violence within domestic sphere? I come across this question from my friends. They alleged, activists do not want to see violence faced by men in the home. Sometimes, they cite examples of men in abusive relationships. I also wanted to share this question with activists. I was afraid that I will be blamed politically incorrect if I ask this question to anyone from the women’s movement. I thought I will be branded with certain ideological terminology. But during Dhaka Consultation, I gathered courage and raised this question.

When this issue was presented to Gary Barker of International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW), he paused for a few minutes. Pressed his lips and started to speak very cautiously. His every word was well thought out, "we do not equate violence against men to violence against women. Because, men have greater socio-economic power. All over world men have economic power. This power is used to subjugate women. So, there status is incomparable."

But, he also says, "Some women have limited power in their house. Few of them use this power to resort to violence. Sometimes against their children...sometimes against their husband and sometime against their in-laws." After Saying this simultaneously he puts a big BUT...

The next question was, what type of violence women engages in, Gary says, "generally men face psychological and mental violence. Due to process of socialization, some women also have ability of emotional expression. They also use their voice as a tool of domination by modulating it."

However Dr. Abhijit Das of Centre for Health and Social justice, Delhi said, whosoever, resorts to violence, is wrong. However, we have to see, the roots of violence very carefully otherwise, we will reach a wrong conclusion. We should see, whether this is the result of social structure i.e. structural violence and outcome of gender discrimination or reaction of oppression? If it is happening due to social structure which means to create power, obviously it is grave issue..." He says, "Generally men do not face violence by women due to social structure." Subhash Mendhapurkar of SUTRA, who is working with commmunity in Himachal pradesh, voices the same opinion. He says, "sometime women do violence but it has many psychological reasons like feeling of insecurity etc."

When these three wise men, Gary, Abhijit and Subhash say all these words, they also put a strong word of caution. Subhash said, "if you take the sample of 1000 cases, 999 will be the violence against women and only one against men. We have to be careful when we talk about violence against men by women otherwise men will use it as an excuse to minimize the impact of violence against women."

Bimala Chandrashekha, Director of Madurai based organization Ekta, also accepts violence against men by women. Though, she is very emphatic, "Vulnerability of women and men to violence is not comparable. Women are more vulnerable. Violence against women is incomparable. They live under the shadow of violence. Their mobility has greater risk. Men do not have to think before taking each step."

(A slightly different version of this series had been published in Hindi daily Hindustan. Nasiruddin Haider Khan is a Hindi journalist based in Lucknow and a researcher in gender issues. His website is and he can be reached at


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