DOMESTIC violence and abuse happens when a family member, current or former partner is violent or abusive to another. In some instances it involves physical contact, emotional and verbal abuse with threats to harm or kill. Men and women experience domestic violence and abuse. But traditionally it’s always been women known to be on the receiving end.
However, newly-revealed statistics show that more men in Zimbabwe are reporting abuse to the police than ever before. The gravity of suffering experienced by male victims deserves more attention.
The report by the Zimbabwe Anti-Domestic Violence Council makes disclosures that include men being bitten, kicked, punched and stabbed by women in abusive relationships. The report published in a story in this week’s edition shows a 23 percent increase in domestic violence cases reported by men and a 10 percent decrease in domestic violence cases reported by women.
From time to time we get to learn about how men are beaten, tortured and psychologically abused so severely through the courts. In some reported cases, at first the police decline to act when called because they don’t believe a man can be abused by a woman because ordinarily it has always been a system of ending violence against women and children. It should be factored that male survivors face unique challenges due to their conditioning and the constraints, expectations and impositions of our gendered society.
Researchers in male abuse cases say systems that don’t believe men can be abused, take the situation as an afterthought for example, in the United Kingdom its estimated that there is one in six males who are survivors of sexual abuse, the 700 000 (as of 2017) annual male victims of domestic abuse, the male survivors of stalking, honour crimes, trafficking or commercial sexual exploitation — all are afterthoughts, incidental appendices to the suffering of others.
It is now long past time that male survivors, their representatives and advocates are afforded the same dignity as women victims and survivors. A Government strategy ending intimate violence against men and boys, separate but parallel to that aimed at violence against women and girls, would allow male victims, survivors and their advocates to secure funding without being pressed into a damaging competition with the women’s sector.