Men – Victims of Violence?
It is widely agreed that a pleasant way to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon in the great city of Karachi is to devote the time to the gratifying task of browsing through a book store in your area. As I browse all the books, I can’t help notice the ‘gender favoritism’ due to the fact that there were a number of books with titles like ‘violence on women’ and ‘women rights’, etc. This made me wonder did men all over the world win the genetic lottery and ended up having a perfect life, never having to go through various aspects of physical, emotional and mental abuse? Then why weren’t there any books about ‘violence on men’?
It all begins when a baby boy comes out of the muscular house, the womb, when he is taught not to disobey the elders and spoon-fed the “big boys don’t cry” phenomenon by continuous reminders that it is unmanly to cry. Men are considered to be strong, dictatorial and macho; providing them an image that regards being scared or defenseless as a taboo. I wanted to get a clear idea of why and how such an important aspect of men’s existence is neglected.
Being a researcher, I planned to avail my options and arranged a Focused group discussion (FGD) where 5 men from different ethnic backgrounds, socio economic status and age groups were invited to express their opinions, perceptions and beliefs on ‘how the society affects their emotional statuses’.
Participant 1- 22 year old, pursuing his graduation.
Participant 2- 30 year old, bachelor; with a successful job
Participant 3- 40 year old, married; belongs to a village
Participant 4- 19 year old, studying and working.
Participant 5- 24 year old, medical student
The information gathered through this discussion is endless, from the very pragmatic to the bizarre. Participant 3 gathered up enough courage to express his frustration by telling that he has been in an abusive relationship with his wife for the past fifteen years. He says,
“I know I will be made fun of by saying this but this is more than just a joke, and this is exactly why plenty of men do not come forward. It was humiliating; I have got strap marks all over my hands and legs. My wife is like a furious bull, hitting me everywhere. There were times when I decided to punch her but then I stopped myself and fought back tears, anger and frustration. I cannot make a report because a woman is beating me but I have witnessed the news where women claim to be beaten and an army of officers rush to her aid.’’
Participant 5 added, “A woman does not have to put much effort to gather attention for help but a man is looked upon twice if he makes a report.’’
I offered a quick tea break and started again.
Participant 2 who remained very quiet throughout the session suddenly came out of his shell and his words mortified the listeners. He was being brutally raped at the young age of 12 by his school van driver. His words:
“I was so frightened that I couldn’t bear to look any man in the eye, when I was taken to the nearest doctor I was crying and shaking to have a man touch me so soon after the terrifying event. I did not tell my parents what really happened because I was too ashamed to tell, they would have been reduced to tears if I ever told them about this incident. I had never felt so powerless, I had no control and I was viciously violated.’’
Participant 1 empathized saying: “Why is it that if a female teacher is seen with a young boy no one questions or doubts upon it while the very moment a male teacher is seen with a young girl, it will reach to a deep, spicy conclusion’’
I was startled as I never saw this coming out of this FGD. I am sure that this issue has alerted many people around the world and they are looking for solutions but the mistake most of them make is that they start concentrating on the individual, hoping to influence him. Should men completely submit to nature’s supremacy by forgetting all the inequalities they suffer?
My purpose of writing this article is not to question statistics or ask whether there are more male victims of violence than women or vice versa. At the end of the day this question is almost insignificant. What is important is that their suffering is considered equally serious as that of the women, and that support and help is available when needed, regardless of gender.
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