An Africa Business Community
Men getting battered too
By Chidi Emmanuel
It is 9.48 pm and Kadri A is still sitting in his Mishref office with hands on his cheeks. “We close by 8.30 pm, but I am still here, trying to avoid trouble at home,” he said in dismay. Initially, Kadri didn’t want to narrate his ordeal, but after much pressure and persuasion, he opened up.
“I know you will not believe me if I tell you this. My wife is my problem. We have been married for four years now. The first year was fine, but after that we started having some domestic problems, which turned into exchange of words, verbal abuses and now assaults and attacks,” Kadri said as he showed some scars and injuries he claimed were inflicted on him by his wife recently. When asked why he has not reported this to their families or the police, he said: “I love her very much. I can’t do this, and even if I do, no one will believe me. Sometimes she begs and asks for forgiveness, so I forgive her.”
Contrary to the widespread impression that women are always the victims of domestic violence, men are also being battered these days in Kuwait – and across the globe. “The problem with domestic violence against men is that it goes unreported - which makes it worse. Traditionally, women are always viewed as the weaker sex. It sounds absurd for a man to report to the police that his wife is physically abusing him,” explained Dr Ibrahim Adel, a sociologist said.
According to a report by Parity, a men’s rights campaign group in the UK, more than 40 percent of domestic violence victims are now men, contradicting the general assertion that it is almost the women who are battered, bruised and physically abused. Unsurprisingly, these assaults are often ignored by the police and the media. “About two in five of all the victims are men. The feminist description of domestic violence as a woman’s problem and not a social problem affects both sexes and their children, and is now strongly entrenched in societal attitudes in most Western democracies including the UK, extending particularly to government, local authorities and other public bodies including police forces, social agencies, children’s charities and even the judiciary,” the report said.
This public indifference, the report added, not only deters many male victims from reporting intimate abuse against them even when they have suffered severe violence, but also reinforces stereotypical attitudes towards them by police forces and social agencies, so that if they do report, they are often disbelieved or ridiculed. Indeed, surveys of male victims have reported that about one in five male victims are themselves arrested and not the female assailant.
Recently, there have been various reports about male victims of domestic violence in Kuwait. Men in Kuwait are now taking the bull by the horn by reporting their abusive spouses to police. In a recent report published in local dailies, an expatriate accused his wife of attacking him in their Fintas residence after he admonished her for spending too much time on the phone. A security source said the 39-year-old man gave police a medical report stating that he was bruised after his wife beat him. Police summoned the woman, who retorted her husband “got what he deserved”.
“I hate going home. I wish I can remain in the office forever. I think I am safer here than at home,” Ahmed, an Egyptian expat, voiced out. “At first, I thought it would stop after a short while, but is almost on a weekly basis now. I can’t even say it, because no one will believe me. I am thinking of a divorce,” he said.
Much has been said and reported about domestic violence against women, while similar violence against men remains unreported even as the number of cases keeps rising. Although women still bear the brunt of domestic violence, campaigners are arguing that male victims should not be ignored or treated as ‘second-class victims’. “Male victims are almost invisible to the authorities such as the police, who rarely can be prevailed upon to take the man’s side. Their plight is largely overlooked by the media, in official reports and in government policy,” said John Mays of Parity, echoing popular belief.
“Violence by women against men in relationships is often ‘trivialized’ due to the supposed weaker physique of women. The main problem is that men who are victims of domestic violence are at times reluctant to report it or to seek help. Also, there is this paradigm that only males perpetrate domestic violence and are never victims. This has been linked to the claims that women are only ever domestically violent in retaliation and self-defense, even when global evidence from multiple sources contradicts this idea,” he explained in the report.