Each time someone shares a tale of battered male partners, the first reaction is that of utter disbelief. Battered male partners are the butt of many jokes and cartoons often depict a large woman chasing her husband with a equally large wooden spoon.
Historically, battered men have always been subjected to mockery. Men who get beaten up by their women are ashamed of speaking out about the abuse they suffer in the hands of their partners.
Media coverage on Gender Based Violence (GBV) usually shows women as the victims and very little coverage and research on taken on violence against men. GBV against men is thought to be unbelievable as women are considered the weaker sex while men are seen as sturdy.
Even liberally thinking people find it difficult envisioning a man being battered beaten his partner. Studies recently undertaken, reveal that annually in the United States alone, as many as 800,000 men are victims of domestic violence.
The study noted that the number has been rising over the last decade as more men step forward to admit the abuse. A survey in Britain, published in 2010, indicated that an average of 40 per cent of men suffered some sort of domestic violence.
Nearer home in Kenya a recent survey conducted in Central and Nairobi provinces by the male advocacy group ‘Maendeleo ya Wanaume (Progress for Men) found out that 460, 000 cases of gender based violence against men, rose from 160, 000 cases in 2009.
According to the survey, men considered insults and being forced to cook, doing the laundry, tackling house work and baby sitting as forms of domestic violence.
Quite an irony as a woman is expected to perform the very same tasks without questions. The report noted that this is only be a tip of the iceberg as many cases are not reported as the idea that men could be victims of domestic abuse and violence is unthinkable.
Rwanda too also has its tale of male domestic violence. Police statistics indicate that 16 men were allegedly murdered by their partners between January and August 2011.
A further 21 men committed suicide believed to be caused by stressful domestic situations. In 2010, 17 men allegedly were killed by their partners and 14 men reported being physically abuse by their partners.
In Ghana it was reported that cases of domestic violence against men has increased. In 2010 e 374 men reported their partners to the police between January and June, according to the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVSU) of the Ghana Police Force, up from the previous year which recorded 176 men.
In Tanzania there is no data or reported cases of battered men, but gender activists express concern over the rising number of men who suffer GBV in the hands of their partners.
Gender and Human Rights Activist Ms Gema Akilimali said men who suffer Gender Based Violence (GBV) should speak out so that necessary efforts can be taken to protect them.
Ms Akilimali said traditionally men are perceived as the perpetrators of GBV, however the tide seems to be turning as a growing number of them are now becoming victims in the hands of their spouses.
Ms Akilimali who was presenting a paper on ‘Women Issues and Constitutional Review Commission’, at a two day workshop hosted by the Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA) recently noted that it is high time that men who suffer GBV speak out so their rights are protected.
Participants in the workshop expressed concern over the extent men in the country suffer in silence at the hands of their spouses without seeking help from NGOs or authorities.
Ms Akilimali said because of the patriarch society we live in, men do not come out to report cases of GBV perpetrated against them by their partners, making it hard to quantify the number of men who suffer GBV.
She said gender issues do not stop with women only but also include men, urging the media to ensure they cover issues affecting GBV issues without being biased.
“There are so many men out there who suffer GBV but out of male pride they do not come out to speak or seek counseling,” she explained. She said men suffer in silence fearing ridicule from the society.