Provide support to men facing domestic abuse
THE EDITOR, Madam:
It is rather unfortunate and prejudiced that the narrative concerning spousal abuse, or intimate partner violence, always seems to come from the reference point that men are the abusers. While statistics indicate that more women are victims of domestic abuse, the society should acknowledge that men, too, are victims of domestic violence.
The fact that spousal abuse continues to be viewed through gender-specific lenses instead of gender-neutral lenses is problematic. As a patriarchal society, we think that because men are stronger physically they are unaffected from being victims of domestic violence; however, nothing could be further from the truth.
Whereas there are numerous avenues for women who are in abusive relationships, the avenues for men to receive support are limited. Given that there are many non-governmental organisations that give both practical and psychosocial support for women in abusive relationships, the same cannot be said about men. It is commendable that the Government has established a number of shelters across the island for women who have emerged from abusive relationships and who require short-term living accommodation, yet there are no government shelters for men who might also require this same level of government support on a short-term basis.
Once again, the assumption used to guide such policies is limited in scope and reach. Many men are in abusive relationships and do not know where to turn for help. We live in a hyper-masculine society where men are ridiculed for stating that they are victims of domestic violence. Men, too, require safe spaces to process their thoughts and ideas, while they emerge from such unhealthy, toxic situations.
The time has come for us as a society to be fair regarding how resources and support are allocated. Undoubtedly, there needs to be a broader and more inclusive approach regarding how we treat domestic violence in the society. It ought not to be that men’s issues are an afterthought. We need to critically interrogate the issue at hand and craft specific policies and establish practical solutions which are geared at addressing the needs of men who are in abusive relationships. Gender and development should never be viewed through a one-size-fits-all criterion.