Some of the most traumatic experiences in life can be encountered at the hands of loved ones.
Many people are unfortunate to have to endure insults, beatings or even rape from the people they love.
Intimate partner violence continues to plague society although numerous efforts have been made to rid society of the vice. While a lot of resources and platforms are available for women, safe spaces for male victims of gender-based violence (GBV) are often limited.
It can be particularly hard for men to admit that they have been the victims of gender-based violence. Some male victims of domestic violence have been taunted and mocked by acquaintances for “not standing up” to their perpetrators, and they can face disbelief when they tell their stories.
Unfortunately, men are almost equally as likely as women to be assaulted by a partner. Further, men don’t have access to the same level of basic community empathy, sympathy, or support that women typically receive by nature of their gender, and therefore are less likely to talk about it.
The scary figures of suicides occurring in the country are enough proof that there is a crisis. Men are dealing with depression and mental health issues. Pressure that comes with financial problems, failed marriages, divorce, physical and emotional abuse from spouses can drive people off the edge.
In the first quarter of 2019, statistics from the Zimbabwe Republic Police showed that a total of 129 people committed suicide, as compared to 94 people during the same period last year. Such facts cannot be ignored as men are much more likely to commit suicide than women.
Patriarchy, the very system that fuels oppression against women, places a lot of pressure on men to live up to certain standards of manhood. Some men are walking wounded by GBV like women, just because they want to live up to the dictates and the ideology of patriarchy and masculinity. Men, just like women, are abused every day, it is only the statistics that differ, however the fact that less men are recorded as victims does not traduce their lament.
Recently, the Anti-Domestic Violence Council revealed that the number of men who report domestic violence cases is on the increase in the country owing to immense awareness campaigns and sensitisation on the issue, with Harare recording the highest number of male victims of violence.
During a recent media briefing on latest statists on GBV chairperson of the Anti-Domestic Violence Council in Zimbabwe (ADVC) Mrs Eunice Njovana said it was worrisome that cases of domestic violence continued to rise.
She said while the number of men who report cases of domestic violence is increasing, the number of women who report remains unacceptably high.
“Ending domestic violence will require a coordinated and concerted community response in which we all play a part. It is understandable to be shocked when domestic violence occurs, but we must also understand its root causes. We must know that we can prevent domestic violence. And together, we can prevent potential victims from having to experience the abuse,” said Ms Njovana.
According to figures announced by ADVC, there was a 23 percent increase on domestic violence cases reported by men and a ten percent decrease in domestic violence cases reported by women as of September 2018.
“I think it’s important to give more context around the statistics to show what we are fussing about. These should show what is happening and what the incidents are. Just to give you a snapshot in 2016, 1 993 men reported cases of domestic violence perpetrated against them, against 17 673 women that reported in the same year.”
“We find that in 2017, 2 461 men reported incidences of domestic violence perpetrated against them against 16 067 cases of women and girls who reported domestic violence. We are still compiling the total figures for 2018 and these are police reported figures. They exclude figures of other practitioners in the sector as you know there are many,” she said.
Mrs Njovana said as of September 2018, the number of women reporting cases of domestic violence was slightly above 10 000.
“But for 2018 which is up to September, 2 183 men reported cases of domestic violence against 10 064 women,” said Mrs Njovana.
Harare topped the list of provinces with the most reported cases of gender-based violence against men while Matabeleland South province recorded the least.
Mrs Njovana called for society to unite in putting an end to all forms of domestic violence and called on service providers to promptly provide quality services to victims of domestic violence and ensure timely access to justice.
Padare/Enkundleni Men’s Forum on Gender Programmes officer Mr Zipho Ngezipho Ndebele said the high numbers of men reporting domestic violence was testimony of the work of organisations that encourage men to report abuse.
“While we cannot celebrate that more men are being abused, the figures show that unlike the past when abuse went untold, more men are heeding our call and reporting abuse. Due to stigma, many men have been afraid and too ashamed to report gender-based violence. We are however taking various approaches to ensure that society is protective of all vulnerable in society.
“We encourage men to continue reporting abuse and we urge them to avoid reporting at the charge office but to approach the Victim Friendly Unit at various police stations across the country. Officers from the Victim Friendly Unit will not make fun of male victims, as most people fear, so we encourage people to go to them if they fear being ridiculed by officers at the charge office,” said Mr Ndebele.
Men are expected to be dominant and powerful, whereas women are expected to be passive. So, when men find themselves in violent relationships, they can’t speak out for fear of being ridiculed. There is nowhere to go, because society is biased and believes women are the weaker sex, who need protection. [email protected]_tshuma