Gender-Based Violence against men is fairly high nowadays

Phillipa Mukome-Chinhoi-Correspondent

The International Men’s Day was celebrated on November 19, marking men’s positive contributions to society, community, family, marriage, child care and the environment. 

Focus was also put on men’s health and well-being that is social, emotional, physical, and spiritual, and highlights on discrimination against men in areas of social services, social attitudes and expectations and law.

The theme for this year’s International Men’s Day 2023 was “Zero Male Suicide”, which highlights the importance of helping men and boys to manage their mental health. 

Padare programmes officer Mr Meseli Nyoni said GBV was among factors that contributed to suicide among men.

 He said violence against men was a controversial area because traditionally or socially men were viewed as perpetrators of violence, however, factually they are also victims of violence. 

“Social norms believe that men are perpetrators of violence not survivors,” said Mr Nyoni. 

“The acronym GBV is not just for women because the definition of it refers to violence directed against a person which could be women, girls, men or boys based on that person’s gender. It does not state that it is based on women.”

 Mr Nyoni said some men were afraid to report to police after being beaten by their wives as they did not know where to report.

“Stigma and fear of the unknown also affects them, while others believe in “kufa kwemurume hubuda ura (men should fight to the end)”. Reporting to the police is a sign of cowardice and lastly they are afraid people will laugh at them,” said Nyoni

“Those who had a chance to familiarise themselves with gender concepts like equity and equality GBV socialisation will recognise violence against men. Some people when gender issues are discussed they equate it to women issues. This has resulted in men who are abused failing to disclose the abuse.

“We are happy that men are now aware of the existence of violence against men and now visit our offices without fear of stigmatisation. Very soon we will be having safe houses for them.” 

Mr Nyoni advised men not to fear to report to the police Victim Friendly Unit offices when abused. 

Every police station has such offices to assist these men, they can also call Padare on 0776027290. 

He noted that most men are not only physically abused, but they are emotionality, economically and socially abused.  

One out of three men is a survivor of abuse. Some have actually left their families and wealth in the hands of the wife because of abuse.

A Harare man who refused to be identified said while women were more likely to be injured or killed in incidents of domestic violence, there were also incidences of men who lost their lives after being attacked by their partners.

 “We are afraid of being looked down upon or being laughed at, even when the situation becomes painful we do not cry. We were raised to be bold and strong,” said Mr Nyoni. 

“I think this should stop because for generations to come men will always suffer in silence.” 

Men, who report domestic violence can face social stigma regarding their perceived masculinity and the fear of not being believed by authorities, and being falsely accused of being the perpetrator.  

Integrative psychotherapist and forensic psychologist Mr Mertha Nyamande said GBV had become a term for women who are abused by men than vice versa. 

“Violence against men is a difficult subject to discuss in a paternalistic society where everyone is conditioned to think that men should be strong and therefore cannot be abused,” he said. 

“The abuse that many men experience is emotional and psychological where there are no physical injuries to tell, but then when they retaliate, there is an uproar. But whenever the reverse is enacted, the world essentially watches this as comedy, as this is not expected in any society.” 

 Dr Nyamande said for men to report such abuse is like admitting impotence.

“Most of such cases are based on the men having a poor sense of self, low self-esteem and confidence that the women take charge instead of an equal footing in an interdependent scenario,” he said. 

“GBV on men usually occurs to vulnerable men, those with some intellectual or physical disabilities on top of psycho-social ones. Having such a vulnerability makes it even more difficult to shout out for help. 

“Additionally, such men may also act in protection of the weakness or illness of their partners. There is also a certain element of “hero complex”.

Mr Nyamande said there was need for societies to create safe spaces for men to really address their issues, away from the bar or the gambling halls where they are all just looking for ways to escape reality, because a lot of these are due to the not-so-common illnesses that either or both parties may suffer. 

“Issues of mental health as well as personality disorders apply to both sexes and these issues need serious commitment and engagement to address. Equally, the law in this regard has been promoted really to protect women more than men,” he said. 

Dr Nyamande noted that these are deep psychological issues that compromise the minds of many to know how to respond in such issues. 

These such limitations are what gives rise to violence and aggression in confrontation, or divorce and suicides as avoidance techniques.

“We must prioritise the provision of community mental health and improved access to psychological therapy services to effectively support such victims on both sides of the spectrum,” he said. 

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), violence against men is a controversial area of research, with terms such as gender symmetry and battered husband syndrome. 

Some scholars have argued that those who focus on female-perpetrated violence are part of an anti-feminist backlash, and are attempting to undermine the problem of male-perpetrated abuse by championing the cause of the man, over the serious cause of the abused woman. 

Surveys have indicated small proportions of men (less than 20 percent of victims) will tell the police or a health professional about their victimisation.

This is perhaps due to well-grounded fears that they will be scorned, ridiculed, or disbelieved by these authorities. 

Some men may not report to police as they do not want to expose their partners as perpetrators of violence.  

It can also be difficult for male victims to understand that they are the recipients of violence rather than the perpetrator.

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