We all know that legally you’re innocent until you’re proven guilty in a court of law. Also, the law must never distinguish between man and woman; laws equally apply to all without discriminating on the basis of gender.
We know wrong.
In India, there are a few specific laws applicable for harassment, which only protect women. Technically, under the Indian Penal Code, a male cannot be raped (unless he is forcibly sodomised), harassed or mentally tortured by his wife. However, the opposite is true and carries severe punishment, if proven.
While how urban women are taking advantage of the laws and misreporting harassment is public knowledge, what we don’t know is how men can be harassed in a marriage or partnership.
We don’t speak about it because we don’t know. We don’t discuss it because we aren’t aware about the tell-tale signs of harassment.
Most importantly, while women have counsellors working day and night to address cases of harassment and abuse, there are no such counsellors to assist men.
It’s important that we acknowledge right at the start that crime cannot be gender specific and women can commit a crime with the same atrocity as men.
We don’t discuss this because most don’t want to. And we don’t talk about this because this space (sexual harassment and abuse) is dominated by women.
Such crimes committed by women go largely unreported, even though one can easily obtain the data about how many women have been booked for the murder or the suicide of their husbands or partners.
So, here I speak up as minority in a series aiming to raise awareness about harassment of men by women.
Let’s begin with marriage.
Harassment of men by their wives is fairly regular, but most of us are so accustomed to it that we don’t realise that we are facing abuse, much like the women in conservative, religious nations.
This is a checklist of a few tell-tale signs of abuse in a marriage. If this is happening, then you’re a victim of domestic violence.
Putting you down in front of your relatives/friends: If your wife has the habit of constantly hitting out at your self-esteem and ego in front of your relatives and friends, then this is abuse. “Oh, he is good for nothing”, “I tell him all the time that you are incapable of achieving anything good in life”, “His salary is not even sufficient to bring proper food on the table”, – are some of the phrases that your abusive wife might use while describing you.
If it happens as an exception, it’s normal – we all make mistakes. But if this is happening fairly regularly, then this is violence. Remember, all violence need not be physical.
Abusing your family members all the time, specially your mother: If your wife regularly abuses your mother frequently, knowing fully well that it hurts you, then she is violent. Abusing doesn’t involve criticising somebody. Abusing means calling somebody names (gaali). If any discussion about the family or your mother ends with your wife talking trash about your father or mother, then this is one more sign of severe abuse.
Related reading: Why her mother never left her father but committed suicide instead
Hitting a husband: Most men are physically stronger than women because of their build and muscle mass. Most women have less strength than men. But hitting somebody is not about strength or force, it’s about how much damage you’re causing the person psychologically. That’s where the brute force manifests. Does your wife slap you, punch you and hit you often when she’s angry? If you tick this point, this is severe abuse. This is severe violence and you must recognise this.
Not sharing your workload: Look back for a moment. Does your wife put all the workload on you saying that it is a man’s job? Does she refuse to do certain things and even compromise on them because she considers it to be a husband’s duty? On the contrary, the same wife forces you to share her duties because every husband should “share the load”? If the above is true then this is an uneven relationship and depending on its intensity and regularity, it can be classified as abuse.
Related reading: Empowering women: Are we doing it right?
Finally, let’s talk about screaming and shouting, which is generally classified as verbal abuse: Are you an introvert? Are you somebody who cannot scream and shout when you are angry? Do you lose words or the chain of your thoughts when you are very angry or in the middle of a heated argument? Do you get intimidated when somebody screams at a loud, high-pitched voice in front of you? Then I’m speaking specially for you, because you aren’t very good at defending yourself in the face of verbal abuse. If your partner is well aware of this and yet screams and shouts at you with an alarming regularity, you need to take a hard look at your circumstances and ask yourself if you are facing abuse. If a wife screams and shouts regularly at a husband who isn’t capable of defending himself, it’s severe abuse.
The signs are many and even more are the number of husbands who are silently suffering through it. A lot of them don’t even know that they are suffering.
You don’t deserve to suffer like this.
The first step towards solving a problem is acknowledging that there is a problem in the first place. Dear husbands, let’s take a hard look at our marriages and understand if we’re being abused.
We can then work towards a solution.