GEN­DER:

Vi­o­lence Against Men Not Of­ten Talked About

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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.

Photo: Mag­com

An in­ter­na­tional move­ment has started with the hash tag Don­tMan­crim­i­nate.

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