Gender Based Violence is a phenomena deeply rooted in gender inequality and continue to be one of the most notable human rights violations within all societies. Gender based violence is violence directed against a person because of their gender, both women and men experience gender based violence but the majority of victims are women and girls. (According to the European Institute for Gender Equality) 

gender based violence

DO MEN EXPERIENCE GBV?

The first international explicit mention of GBV against men and boys was the UN security council resolution 2106, supported by the UK and adopted in 2013, sadly it fell short of calling for action. Violence against men is a topic which is largely unspoken, especially in Nigeria. Whenever the topic arises or any issues relating to GBV the first thing that comes to the mind of majority is that a woman is the receiver of the violence while a man is the perpetrator, this is understandable given the range of worldwide perpetration of gender inequalities which mostly result in women being more exposed to attack than men. Nonetheless, the issue with this is that it lessens the reality and extent of GBV against men and boys. The recent case of Jonny Depp and Amber Heard is an eye opener to the fact that men actually experience Gender Based Violence.

GBV against men include, Domestic violence which is also called intimate partner violence, it involves the abuse of one partner by the other, it could be verbal, sexual, or psychological in nature and it usually comes in various forms ranging from threat to harm, emotional abuse, oppression or rape among others. It can also be institutional, there are many boys and men in institutions and prisons who are subject and vulnerable to great violence, physically and intellectually challenged males are at greater risk of being victims to GBV than others within an institutional environment. There is also conflict, Boys and Men are likely to be killed and abused during conflicts than girls/women, some of the abuse endured by men and boys during conflicts and imprisonment include forced recruitment, rape, sexual abuse, forced incest etc.

The full scale of GBV against men especially in Nigeria is unknown because it is widely unreported, most men hardly report such cases because Nigeria as a society is patriarchal, men are expected to live to a particular standard of manliness, they are expected to be more dominant due to their physical strength. Lawyer Mohd Ridhwan Husin, the assistant Secretary General of the Malaysian Syariah Lawyers Association in an interview with MALAYSIANOW concerning the Depp V. Heard case said” traditionally Malaysian men don’t like admitting to being beaten by their wives, they are afraid they would be seen as weak”. This is also what is affecting the outspokenness of men in Nigeria, the fear of being seen as weak. Public ridicule and harsh criticism are other factors why men don’t speak out, they are scared of people mocking them publicly for allowing their spouse to oppress and dominate them. Moreover, there is a great probability that on reporting to the appropriate authority they may not be granted audience and if granted at all they would need a convincing story to justify their claims, also table might turn around and they may end up being tagged the oppressor.

The creation of awareness and acknowledgment of GBV against men and boys is in no way a hindrance or opposition to that of women and girls, it shouldn’t be seen as a form of misogynism but as a way to adequately start addressing GBV as an overall crisis. It should be known that both women and men could both be aggressors of domestic violence and it is not subject to only one gender, the uneven view that only weak men experience abuse should also be eliminated. Male sufferers of domestic abuse should be allowed to speak the truth without being victimized, it is an obvious truth that men too suffer GBV. According to sociologist Sharifah Fatimah AL Attah, the role of society in general whether we are giving support as family members of the victim or if we are policymakers is to ensure that if victims are looking for support or help, they will be believed regardless of their background.

Author: Mercy Ayoolamide Akintadea
From Adekunle Ajasin University, Nigeria

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