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Male perspective in gender issues

Published: 
Tuesday, May 15, 2018

From reports in the media, it appears that abusive relationships in either formal marriages, common-law arrangements or casual liaisons are on the rise. Such abuse, in instances, may result in serious physical injury or death. The primary abusers are overwhelmingly males.

It is a matter of speculation as to the reasons for the reported increasing incidence of abuse—whether due to substance abuse, general frustration at work or with living conditions, or the inability of some males to come to terms with the changing status of females in the society as a result of their higher levels of education, financial independence and assertion of their right to freedom of choice.

Since some males resort to violence as the only alternative in dealing with conflict situations, should not a focused socialisation process through family education and counselling, the formal education system and the medium of culture be initiated to sensitise males with a predilection towards abuse to accept the changing and enhanced status of women and their demand for equal rights.

A more comprehensive probe and assessment may be required to attain a fuller picture of domestic abuse and violence. It may be that we should inquire into the proportion of the male population that harbour abusive tendencies which may not be confined to any class, socio-economic element or ethnic group. If this proportion is a modest minority, it would imply that the large majority of males engage in non-violent if not accommodative or cordial gender relationships.

Another issue is whether there is significant provocation, in one form or another, perpetrated by females which trigger aggressive and violent reactions from males that may be excessive or unjustified. That women, on the whole, are the victims of abuse in gender relationships is undeniable. However, the strident and vocal clamour of women’s advocacy groups has dominated the conversation and may somewhat overstate the extent and severity of the problem. As a result, it may be that males as a group are stigmatised as aggressive, abusive and prone to violence and oppression.

In light of the above observations, one gets the impression that generally the male perspective in broken or abusive relationships is not duly acknowledged and their interests, pleas and reasonable demands are ignored by public authority, the judicial system and the media. Hence, it is quite possible that males are disadvantaged in consideration of child custody, visitation arrangements, access to and distribution of joint property and the issuance of general cautions and sanctions.

In the circumstances, the projection of males as role models to children may be seriously undermined. It appears that males themselves have resorted to the formation of advocacy groups to plead their cause. One such group, the Single Fathers Association of T&T, has been gaining the attention of the media in recent times.

TREVOR SUDAMA,
San Fernando

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