HYDERABAD:It wasn’t the voices of victimised women but those of men complaining of “wicked wives” that were heard the the most during this domestic violence awareness month that ends today, October 31.
The month may have been earmarked to coax women to step out of their homes to file cases against cruel husbands, but in Hyderabad men were seen asking “aggrieved” husbands to report the ill-treatment meted out to them by their wives.
Having found a confidant in each other, these men, claiming to be victims of false dowry harassment cases and domestic abuse, toured the city roads distributing pamphlets about the absence of a law to protect them against such ill-treatment and the need for more ‘male-oriented’ policies. They held campaigns and seminars where they accused the society of being biased towards women and prejudiced against men, and went from one locality to the other asking other traumatised husbands to come forward and report such incidents.
The ‘tortured spouses’ also launched an All-India Men’s Welfare Association (AIMWA) to take their battle to a higher level and call for a separate ministry for safeguarding the interests of men like them. “India even has a separate ministry for animals. Why should the men be left out then?” said S Venugopal, convener of Save India Family Foundation (SIFF), Andhra Pradesh chapter, the body that facilitated the launch of AIMWA. Venugopal, who joined this group around six months ago says that the awareness about these social groups is increasingly growing among men in the state who, unlike in the past, are now willing to come out and share their experiences with the world. “When I joined SIFF there were indeed a few others like me. But today the numbers have doubled,” he said.
Parthasarathy T R, one of the founders of AIMWA agrees with this as he goes on to point out how the three helplines, that are available for such male victims, have not stopped ringing ever since they held these rallies. “Each of these numbers receive close to 30-40 calls a day as against 10-15 previously, from distressed husbands,” he said. These organisations are also conducting an increased number of counselling sessions for such men now, who they say, tend to develop suicidal tendencies if not attended to. “The pain and agony that men go through, when subjected to domestic violence is much like what women face, when ill-treated. But everybody sympathises with the women, the men find no listeners,” said Mohammed Jaleel a member of AIMWA adding, “Whenever I tried to tell people how I was wrongly framed, they either thought I was mad or was trying to cover my misdeeds of harassing my wife by saying all that. Nobody believed anything that I said until I joined this forum.”
Curiously, much like in the case of women, the stories of harassment of these husbands are also related to their in-laws. While some complain of their in-laws forcing them to become ‘ghar jamais’, others allege that their influential in-laws have got them beaten up by the police without even filing a case. Home truths of another kind.