Men’s rights find a Bolly handle

New Delhi, May 10: Small-time actor Adhyayan Suman’s outburst against National Award-winning star Kangana Ranaut seems to have lent some steam to the long-struggling men’s rights movement.

The 28-year-old son of actor Shekhar Suman spoke up last month about the “abusive” relationship he shared with her between 2008 and 2011. Although he was trolled on social media as “a wimp” for allowing Kangana to “beat him” up, men’s activists feel he displayed “a lot of guts” in a country conditioned to believe that “men don’t cry”.

“It is virtually unknown for men to let others know that they have been physically abused by the woman they are in a relationship with. Every day we get 10 calls on our help-lines from men complaining of abuse by wives and girlfriends. About 50 per cent are about physical abuse,” said Virag Dhulia who heads Confidare Research, a men’s rights group in Bangalore.

“Slapping, punching, biting and throwing things are common. There are also cases of men being stabbed by their wives in a fit of anger,” added Dhulia, who also runs India’s only domestic violence shelter for men in Bangalore.

After Adhyayan was trolled after his interview to a Mumbai daily, he had tweeted: “I spoke from my heart… and I did this so that the truth could be out there… I have lived with it for way too long and felt this was the moment to let go…

“I am sorry but I rather be called unmanly than hit women or any one for that matter….”

Men’s rights activists say the fear of being branded “unmanly” or being rebuked was what made men shy away from publicly acknowledging abuse by a woman.

“Abuse is gender-neutral. Only our instincts are gender-specific. If the abuse is by a man, the woman is the victim, but if the abuse is by a woman, it is not acceptable. In fact, most men tolerating abuse themselves don’t accept the fact, leave alone go public with it. Men have been indoctrinated into believing that men don’t cry, men don’t open up about their feelings,” said activist Vivek Ganesan.

“It took a lot of guts for Adhyayan to come forward and speak about the abuse he tolerated. Young men have to realise that… they need to stand up for their rights as men.”

Informal studies conducted by the Save Indian Family Foundation, a men’s rights group, have shown that about 10 per cent of young men face physical abuse from their girlfriends and about 30 per cent emotional abuse or controlling behaviour.

“Society expects men not to open up and speak about abuse. They are expected to behave as if they are strong and feel no pain,” said Rajesh Vakharia of the family foundation.

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