Violence Against Men Not Often Talked About
This is an edited version of Nemani Delaibatiki’s My Say in the FBC TV programme, 4 The Record
The Speaker of Parliament Dr Jiko Luveni alluded to something that we do not often talk about. We talk a lot about violence against women but we hardly discuss violence against men. When a woman becomes a victim of violence or abuse the incident is quickly highlighted because it is reported. But when a man becomes a victim we never get to hear it. He is reluctant to let the public know because it will expose his weakness and he will be shamed.
It arises from this stereotype that men are physically stronger and superior than women.
This battle of the sexes is at the centre of many relationship problems.
Violence is the end result. The small man that Dr Luveni encountered in Navosa asked a pertinent question: “You keep talking about violence against women, women also violate men.” Dr Luveni asked the man: “Where is your wife? He said she is right there. She was a huge woman and I said “No wonder.” From that exchange we learn who wears the pants in that family. That’s not an isolated case. I am sure there are other cases when men suffer in silence, trapped in their own homes unable to speak out because they could be ridiculed. But then there other men who meet violence with violence. Invariably the women’s accounts of events are usually believed. Our current laws are heavily weighted in favour of women in a bid to protect them and discourage violence and abuse against them.
That is adequate deterrent for would be offenders. But we know that the law has not completely stopped the violence and abuse. There must be other ways to solve this problem. Dr Luveni has touched on this. She said: “Maybe we women aggravate the situation. Sometimes we know exactly what our husbands don’t like and still we go ahead and do it. What do you expect?” All men are different. Some were brought up in families where violence was part of the norm. Others were raised in families where violence and vulgar language were shunned. The same applies to women. When a man and a woman come together in a union, they bring with them their different unique personalities, individual backgrounds, their likes and dislikes, their hobbies and interests. These are differences they need to resolve to grow their relationship. Along the way they are required to give and take, understand one another. They need to cultivate a culture of love and understanding, recognising each other’s weaknesses and patiently working to resolve them. What I am trying to say is that a relationship cuts both ways. Both have equal responsibilities. This is probably what Dr Luveni was trying to explain. I have asked Dr Luveni again about her statement. She tells me that she does not condone any form of violence against anyone, men or women. She is interested in finding realistic solution to the problem that we face. We have been talking about this problem for many years like a broken record. She is looking for practical solutions. Rosy Akbar, the Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation has voiced the political solution. She said her ministry did not tolerate or condone any form of violence against women and children. Everyone including Dr Luveni would support her. The question is how do we translate that policy into reality because there is no letup in the number of cases that come before the courts. How do we deal with violence against men? That Navosa man wants to know because he is a victim. We need to go back to the home in the family and breed this culture of non-violence. A culture whether both the men and women are respected, understand each other and do not hurt one another. That’s the outcome we should all be aiming for.
I am sure there are other cases when men suffer in silence, trapped in their own homes unable to speak out because they could be ridiculed.
An international movement has started with the hash tag DontMancriminate.