Domestic violence happens in our everyday life and in most cases, the victims have been women. This seems to be the case simply because women are more likely to report the crime to the authorities. Besides, the society we live in is more patriarchal.
But that does not mean that men are not victims of domestic violence. In fact, domestic violence is a crisis that has existed for long. However, the matter has not been given the attention it deserves in comparison to domestic violence perpetrated on women.
Evidence from research indicates that there are many myths about men being the perpetrators of domestic violence. However, there have been laws against men, who commit this offence, yet if men were abused, they were often vilified.
In Africa, boys are nurtured to become men in specific historical and cultural contexts, the reason why men behave the way they do.
Thus to understand the concept of domestic violence, several aspects of cultures of masculinity need to be challenged or de-constructed in order to make more effective interventions to end violence against both men and women.
The Uganda Police Force Crime Report of 2013 indicated that of the 360 people killed in domestic violence, 183 were men and 177 women. Domestic violence ranks among the top 10 crimes reported to police, according to the same report.
Police say many domestic violent cases where men are killed arise from property wrangles between the spouses or failed relationships. Preventing domestic violence against men is not easy because they do not report such incidents. There are also no clear social support systems to help the men, who are abused.
Domestic violence is a dangerous practice in Uganda. In an attempt to address the situation, the government has ratified several international treaties related to domestic violence, backed by the Constitution. However, many provisions granted by this Constitution such as the Domestic Violence Act, Family Act and the Domestic Relations Bill seem to address only the plight of women rather than both sexes.
While news of violence and crimes against women and girls are reported extensively in the media, there are a growing number of men and boys, who are silently facing physical and psychological violence at the hands of their family members or public.
Abused men may be described as double victims because not only are they victims of a female violence, but they also risk being laughed at when they attempt to seek help. They will laugh at you and regard you to be a coward. In Uganda and other patriarchal societies, domestic violence is normally against women and children but with men equally suffering from it although they are rarely viewed as victims.
The government, through the ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development as well as civil society organisations, are dedicated to women, children, youth and people with disabilities and non-profit organisations spend a lot in fighting domestic violence.
However, their efforts are directed at campaigns against abuse of women and children. It is highly unlikely that a shilling has been spent on campaigns against violence perpetrated against men.
As we mark 16 Days 2019 of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, the question that arises is, who stands for abused men?