updated 8 Sep 2012, 14:17
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Sat, Dec 12, 2009
Kuensel Newspaper/Asia News Network
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From husband to wife-batterer: Why?
by Sonam Pelden

When Karma married his wife 12 years ago, he never realised that his job would one day cost his marriage.

A driver and always on the move, the less Karma stayed at home, the more suspicious his wife became. “I used to get home tired and she’d start complaining,” said the father of three. “It became too much, it angered me and I started using my hands to quiet her.”

The 32-year-old said that he still does not understand why his wife became suspicious. “Even the children used to tell her not to taunt me so much,” recalls Karma, adding that he also then had a drinking habit.

But his wife, who’d sought help from the RENEW (Respect, Educate, Nurture, Empower Women) secretariat, when she was unable to bear his beatings, had told them that their problems began as soon as their first child was born.

Married for 34 years, Dorji is another husband, among many, who used to beat his wife regularly. The farmer says that he may have taken to beating his wife because he was young and possessive, and also because he thought that it was traditionally right to take out his anger on his wife.

“Our misunderstanding was always related to farm works,” recalls the 53-year-old father. “If one hadn’t gone to collect wood, or if a job had been left incomplete, it angered the other,” says Dorji. “And that’s how the fights picked up.”

Dorji stills feels that his wife, who stayed at the shelter for about three months, listened to and trusted others more than him. “And the pressure to bring up seven small children was another reason that we didn’t get along,” he says.

Records with RENEW, however, say that Dorji had been severely battering his wife for more than 20 years.

The two root causes of domestic violence, says forensic expert, Dr Pakila Dukpa, are men’s superiority complex and the culture of violence. “Men exercise dominance to show that they’re in control of everything, especially over women,” he said. “And when they sense a threat to their identity and masculinity, they resolve it through control, which is violence.”

Extra marital affairs, he said, is one of the manifestations of men trying to assert their control. “ Alcohol is also used as an excuse to assert control,” said Dr Pakila Dukpa, adding that, so far, no study has been done on the perpetrators of domestic violence.

Psychiatrist at the Thimphu referral hospital, Dr Chencho Dorji, says that domestic violence usually occurs when one is under the influence of alcohol. “But it’s not necessarily the reason,” he said. “And, in most cases, it happens due to jealousy and drug use.”

Domestic violence, says Dr Chencho Dorji, not only occurs between a man and woman, but also between parents and children or vice versa and surrogate parents and children. “Women also abuse men and children also emotionally abuse their parents,” he said, adding that domestic violence cuts across all sections of the society. “One can abuse physically, emotionally, financially and also by depriving someone of something, such as food or clothes.”

Although over 95 percent of domestic violence victims are women, Dr Pakila Dukpa says that women who abuse men usually come from a violent family.

For children exposed to domestic violence in the family, studies have shown that daughters become more vulnerable to be abused later in life as wives, and sons, more vulnerable to become abusive later in their life. “If a family resorts to violence to resolve a conflict, it’s called cultural violence and it tends to perpetuate the issue more,” he said.

But while the differences are huge, there are still some couples that try, with help, to make their marriages work. From about 400 domestic violence cases registered with RENEW in the past year, almost 80 percent of the women have been reunited with their husbands. “But there are still some, who go ahead with divorce,” says a counsellor. “Sometimes, the husbands refuse to come for counselling because they think that we take the woman’s side.”

Meanwhile, Dorji says that things have been better after he and his wife received counselling. “I thought RENEW helped only women but it’s not so, they also help us,” says the farmer. “My wife had wanted to divorce me and if she’d really insisted, I’d have given in, but RENEW helped us clear things up,” says Karma.


readers' comments
SPH,please dont put these picture that form a thousand words,why not interview man beaten by wife and many wife beater of maid so why can wife beat up a man and the press is giving so much coverage on these woman issue while an abusive wife is gone free yet the law protect the woman for her it.Marraiges is breaking down with legal siding even the woman is the fallen parties. MAN Stand Up if you are right.
Posted by catnmouse on Mon, 1 Feb 2010 at 12:19 PM

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