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The flip side of domestic violence


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Last week, as I was scanning through news channels, I came across a report on an issue which plagues us all, brought Pakistan its first Oscar award and has been a reason of much negative publicity for the country—a disease called acid attack.

For a change, though, the report and the footage surprised me slightly since the victim of the assault was not a woman, but a man called Sheikh Muhammad Noman and the short documentary entailed the sudden surge of acid attacks against men in Pakistan.

Intrigued by the hypothesis and the arguments of the report, I went searching for content on the story. To my surprise, the crime did not receive much attention from any major Pakistani news channel, except for some minor details on how the crime was perpetrated and the summary of how Pakistani women are now seeking revenge for the unfair treatment they have been receiving since years, on online and print media.

I was wondering if the coverage, or lack of it, by the local press and non-governmental organisations would have been the same had the victim been a woman? Shouldn’t violence be curtailed at all levels, regardless of who instigates it? And most importantly, do abusers have a ‘gender’? Aren’t all victims entitled to the same treatment?

Searching for answers to these thoughts, I looked for organisations working for men’s rights in Pakistan and quite amazingly, I drew a blank. No matter how male dominated and patriarchal our society appears to be, there are no organisations working specifically for the welfare and betterment of men in our country.

Things are a bit different across the border, as Indian men have formed various NGOs to fight for their rights.

According to Atit Rajpara, President of Men’s Rights Association (MRA), “many Indian men have resorted to suicide in order to break free from their matrimonial troubles. The suicide rate of married men is extremely high and the ratio is growing by leaps and bounds every year.”

Surprisingly, the stigma of ‘domestic violence’ also affects men. “Men also become victims of domestic violence. In fact, a huge percentage of them are being subjected to domestic violence globally. It was only after we established MRA that we realised that men have complaints and they also suffer,” he told me on the phone from Pune.

Despite being used to dealing with such complaints, Rajpara says some of the cases are “beyond sanity.”

“One of the strangest complaints that we received was about a wife who had a ‘rate chart’ and asked for monetary compensation for all the domestic chores that she did separately,” Rajpara added.

When a woman abuses a man, the violence is conveniently attributed to revenge, a self-defence mechanism, mental ailment or many other justifiable excuses. At the same time, we also hold men accountable in cases of domestic abuse without giving a second thought to details and evidences. The fact that men are generally considered ‘evil’ and ‘oppressors’ is the main reason why we become irrational while such reporting crimes against men. It is not about women’s rights or men’s rights, it is about human rights, which are violated when a crime is committed. It is about constructing a better society where rights are mutually respected without any gender discrimination.

It is also extremely essential to understand that the abuse is not always physical. A sad example of emotional abuse comes from an octogenarian, who feels his wife’s years of taunting have left a ‘lifelong mark.’

“I lost my job in when my children were very young. My wife had a small boutique and that is how we were able to make our ends meet during that time. While I was always be indebted to her, but when I was unemployed she always misbehaved with me and called me ‘a good for nothing’ man in front of my children. I still feel that I am incapable of supporting my family and that is exactly how my children think. They do not respect me and my relationship with them has been altered for good.”

One of the reasons why we are such a violent and aggressive society is that we expose our younger generation to violence at an early age. Parents who are either verbally or physically abusive toward each other, in the presence of their children or otherwise, are unintentionally giving tutorials to their kids to follow in their footsteps. It won’t be wrong to suggest that violent parents lead to violent children, which means that unless we curb aggression from both the genders (yes, both) the cycle of violence will not break.

In our side of the world, men being victims to violence is still considered a taboo. Many men do not speak about their plight because for them it becomes an issue which hurts their pride. It is also important to understand that men generally lack proper channels to voice their complaints but they need to be vocal about the problems they face.

While fighting for rights, people in our society emphasise more on gender discrimination rather than gender equality. It is true that women are marginalised everyday but on the other hand, men are also discriminated on the basis of their gender. Separate queues, relaxed working hours and harassment laws are a clear indication of the gender discrimination men face every day.

In order to become civilised and control the aggression, we need to analyse our shortcomings. Expecting a solution by only analysing one side of the coin will not be helpful. Habitual violence should be discouraged and our focus should shift from women’s right to rights in general, without flagging them as top priority and least priority. Unless we are able to accept and respect human rights, we will not be able to eradicate or minimise cases of violence that stems very much from within and around us.

Faiza Mirza
The writer is a Reporter at

DAWN_VIDEO - /1029551/DAWN-RM-1x1

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (27) Closed

Jaffar Hasnain May 21, 2012 08:13pm
The Article is very interesting. It's actually good to know that some people in this country do care about man's rights. The main reason why man are considered to be violent is because of the society we live in. Since our childhood we are taught that women are sensitive and delicate and man are strong and aggressive. This is actually how we are nurtured and this nurture has led us to believe that males are the one who are wrong. We give too much emphasis on women rights, and this emphasis has somehow managed to give women a higher rank in the society but however man's rights are being ignored due to this and somewhat women are gaining more dominance in the society ( Which is a not something notorious). I request media personnel to please take this issue into account because by doing this we can make sure that man's rights are not being ignored by the society.
kazmageddon May 21, 2012 12:57pm
a very thought provoking article, im glad someone actually wrote about this. but then again, i wont be surprised if a thread of anti-male comments would follow. 2 thumbs up
Cyrus Howell May 21, 2012 01:51pm
Food for thought.
Muhammad May 21, 2012 01:55pm
Nice work,you underline the core issue ,what i deeply felt that octogenarian violence is continuously rising in our society,and similarly in offices where management don,t gave any attention to lower rank workers,its also a discrimination committed by so called snobbish.........
Irtaza May 21, 2012 01:58pm
Yada yada
Agha Ata May 21, 2012 02:07pm
I see the presence of Stockholm’s syndrome somewhere.
Hina Ahmed [Karachi] May 21, 2012 03:04pm
There certainly stands a need to form an establishment that could protect males' rights but the part in the article about letting women attracting sympathy and help over rights' violation issues in the name of self defense and media being insensitive towards males, is fallacious. If we recall what Zainab Bibi of Shah Faisal colony [Karachi] did to her husband (killed and attempting to cook) and how she was condemned by the media; And how severely did media and masses decried killing the two Sialkoti Hafiz brothers who were killed by the angry mob [which were all men], are few of such examples that firstly, media never leaves anything uncovered whether it is about females or males and secondly the number of males' being victimized than females, in Pakistani society, is relatively cipher. PS: That incident you're quoting about acid burn accident of the male is again what got to know via media.
Sajjad Ahmed May 21, 2012 03:22pm
Coming from a female writer in the country, it does come as quite surprising ! Without doubt, the woes of the worker class men who toil hard day in and day out to make ends meet, must be addressed by the society at large. It is the general mindset that goes in a loop. There are men who who look for justice when they work 18 hours a day and still abused verbally and emotionally at home for their meager income.
Sumanth May 21, 2012 08:48pm
Social misandry or hatred of males is an age old phenomenon. It is not something that radical feminists created in 60s, though some feminists may create wild stereotypes against men. Misandry is evident as men oppressed other men in the name of race, religion, ethnicity or color since ages. Often they called this oppression as "good vs evil battles". It is ironic, that it is men who hate other men and consider males as a disposable. Men also give more attention to women's problem because of 16th century chivalry. Chivalry is part of male's mating strategy. Men are also stuck inside their age old male identity that they are protectors and providers, strong and they feel no pain. They are still struggling to get out of that identity. Unfortunately, feminists could have gained a lot by allowing men to free themselves. However, feminists today partner with 16th century males and call for further oppression of weak and poor men. In West, men still believe that men in Islamic countries rarely get abused by women.
Vijay May 21, 2012 09:39pm
Excellent article. Agree with you 100% that men as well as women need to be weaned away from parents/families that subject them to physical or psychological violence at a very early age. I have seen dozens of cases, even here in Canada, among South Asian families where literally childrens' lives are being wrecked without any realization on parents' part.
JPositive May 22, 2012 12:50am
The important point to note (and is sadly missing from such debates) is physical violence vs verbal or emotional violence. While men are capable of inflicting physical violence, women are even more capable of inflicting verbal or emotional violence. In most of the cases, men's physical violence occurs because of the verbal abuse that women inflict on them. I am not aware of any research or study on this aspect though.
abdul Sheikh May 22, 2012 02:51am
Very touching article. I live in USA. One of my friend closed his business because of bad economy. His wife made his life hell complaining about everything. He got depressed , sick and went on medication. My Oscar goes to the writer.
marc May 22, 2012 05:54am
Thank you for this article. This is a problem all over the world. In California I sued the state and successfully got the laws declared unconstitutional where they excluded male victims of domestic abuse from state-funded services. Please visit the issues page of the National Coalition For Men for alot of info, facts, and sources on this and many other men's rights issues.
ahmad butt May 22, 2012 07:59am Based on your articles and reality of our Pakistani community overseas, here are my two cents for the sake or argument What are the fellow Pakistanis settled overseas doing? If such parents dont want their daughters to adopt western values, why do they settle in the west first place as this would cause the exposure to . isnt it hypocrisy to earn there, live a better lifestyle and cheat their system while being the defenders of Islam and honor at the other end? We Pakistanis as a nation never matured in developing a social culture, and are living in a confused state, where we havent defined if Paksitan is a islamic country, moderate democracy, and what human rights constitute.
rish May 22, 2012 08:34am
Excellent article and veryu true! In india there is gross violation of mens rights and the laws made and heavily biased against men which is why they r misused by unscrupulous women to extort money from men....and nobody raises a voice against this. its a fact that more men than women commit suicide in india due to dowry related crimes and yet there is no action taken. I am sure no 1 in the indian media would have the guts to write such an article and hence I applaud this writer for touching upon this subject.
Yousuf May 22, 2012 08:49am
Why we do not do "root cause analysis" for such incidents
Zohair May 22, 2012 09:20am
physically men are being less victimized but in emotional violence women are more capable and also exploit the feelings of their husband everyday either by taunting of earning less or backbiting before their children or any personality weaknesses he possess... there are so many husbands having sad mood all the time due to domestic unsatisfactory life some even commit suicide....
Khurram May 22, 2012 09:23am
Very nice article! And the fact that it is written by a women makes it more meaningful. An important point which many of the organizations working on women empowerment forget that all those men who work at various places are not single men, they have women at their homes. So a man’s wife has to suffer because he can work long hours to compensate for a women who has to leave early to take care of her family.
498Victim May 22, 2012 01:23pm
from India, I am extremely happy that somebody highlighted this issue in such a balanced thought. Anybody seeing the plight of men ?
Umesh Talwar May 22, 2012 02:41pm
Really a very good article and veryu true! here i want to coat the law which are bought up for women's empowerment is actually are dangerous for them-self.... Interesting Stats On Arrests Of Women (Mother & Sister) In 1930, the British govt arrested 17,000 women for their involvement in the Dandi Yatra (Salt March). During 1937 to 1947 (10 Years), they arrested 5,000 women involved in the freedom struggle. From 2004 to 2006, the govt of India arrested 90,000 women of all ages under 498A. On the average, 27,000 women per year are being arrested under this flawed law. These are stats from the NCRB
Equality May 22, 2012 03:46pm
Nice article. Thanks for putting forth the reality.
Umesh Talwar May 22, 2012 03:46pm
Really a very good article and veryu true! here i want to coat the law which are bought up for women's empowerment is actually are dangerous for them-self....
Humayun May 22, 2012 09:45pm
I just meet this man Nauman, he is very upset for his treatment becuase here is many NGO's working for Women's which is a good thing. if any on intrested to help him then please let me know or recommend any orgnization for him.
Karthik May 23, 2012 05:40am
Thanks for the writer to write this gutsy article. At least some one on the other side of the border is willing to listen to our plight (Indian men). I am one of the victims of domestic violence, in-fact hit several times by my wife who is extremely violent and manipulative. But my wife made me, my parents and even my sisters (Who where no where connected with us or lived with us) to land in jail by a single false complaint of dowry demand. We where not listened by the authority or the court even though we had enough proof of our innocence. The case is going on in the court for the past 3 years and the trial has not started yet. But we have to attend all the court dates (by travelling 300 km) just to get the next date. My career as a successful doctor in USA has to be abandoned just because of this false dowry case. Now I am unemployed and planning to attend one court to another court facing the false case of dowry demand, domestic violence (I am accused of inflicting domestic violence but in fact I am the one who was abused), maintenance case and divorce cases. There were instances where I thought of even committing suicide but with the help and guidance of save India family foundation (SIFF) I gained confidence to fight out for the Justice.
Amol Kurhe May 23, 2012 05:48am
Thats really great article Faiza Mirza.....thts the artocities carried out agaisnt Man though in Pakistan or India or anyother part of the world. This is mainly because man has been only looked for a provider and protector......who takes care of his right...In fact he himself is unaware of the his own rights. Further I must appreciate your efforts to cover such a wonderful article that to being a Woman. I will further appreciate if you could help the Man by spreading awareness against such artocities and educate they regarding their rights. Also we need to also educate women to also consider their responsibilities rather than their rights.
Saqib Syed May 23, 2012 07:59am
Suicide ratio among married men is higher than women. The main reason is continuous mental torture most of the men experience in their marital life. Some men resort to physical violence but that too is perpetrated on the instigation on another woman from the husband's family. Another misery adds up in man's life due his irresolute stance during domestic wars between his bride and kins. It leads to an irreparable mantle damage. That is why men die earlier than women. Look around in society. What is the ratio of widows to widowers.
Prakash thakre May 23, 2012 08:48am
It happens everywhere but no one accepts unless it happens to him / her ,near & dear.Media is also so much biased or may be TRP matter's just like satymev jayte. The people should come forward to express explain the hidden facts.