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Real men don’t cry, but do get scarred at home

- XISS seminar on women’s helpline findings reveals an unspoken side of domestic violence

Victims of domestic violence may not only be women. The silent scream of men was one of the startling findings of the women’s helpline run by XISS, Ranchi.

Though the topic of the XISS women’s helpline meet on Wednesday was “women today”, abuse victims could be from both the genders, panelists pointed out.

Those who attended the meet included Jharkhand state women’s commission chairperson Mahua Maji, Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) director Tulsi Mahto, Ranchi Institute of Neuro-Psychiatry and Allied Sciences (Rinpas) medical superintendent A.K. Nag, Sadar Hospital medical superintendent A.K. Jha and NGO representatives.

“During the past 18 months, we received 217 complaints of domestic violence. Usually, one would believe all victims are women, but this is not true. A sizeable 30-35 per cent are men,” Sanjay Verma, chief programme coordinator of XISS women’s helpline, said.

Verma recounted instances where wives called up the helpline, citing domestic abuse. When the couple was called for counselling to XISS on Purulia Road, some 500m from the main campus, the facts that emerged showed the husband was the wronged party.

“Husbands are under huge psychological stress if their spouses are materially very demanding. Also, many women force husbands to stop looking after parents or other relatives. Men find it tough to admit they are being subjected to violence,” Verma said.

He added XISS would start compiling these cases separately.

During the last 18 months, the institute’s helpline also recorded 34 cases of sexual abuse. “In most cases, men sexually exploited the girls concerned after promising them marriage. But, in 30 per cent cases, the girls dumped the boys,” Verma said.

The helpline also received calls from people with psychological or image-related distress triggered by events in their virtual lives or addiction to their profiles on social networking sites and mobile phones.

The helpline also recorded 74 missing cases, 30 instances of bigamy and eight dowry-related cases during the last 18 months.

The helpline has two numbers — 10921 and 0651-2532358. The toll-free number 10921 sometimes stays defunct, about which the XISS has complained to service providers BSNL several times. The number 0651-2532358 is not toll-free, but works.

In many cases, NGOs associated with XISS get to know of cases first and refer them to XISS for face-to-face counselling.

In case of complex cases, XISS refers persons to mental health hospitals.

Rinpas medical superintendent Nag advised NGOs to train their member-volunteers to handle cases at the preliminary level.

“As the first care-giver of a psychologically troubled person, the NGO member needs to be trained as well,” he said.