Malaysia sees surge in domestic abuse against men

KUALA LUMPUR - More men have stepped forward to report domestic abuse inflicted on them by their partners.

Statistics from 2010 to last year show an alarming uptrend of men being abused.

In 2010, 21 per cent of abuse cases were reported by men, rising to 25 per cent in 2011 and 27 per cent last year.

However, these figures did not reflect the actual number of cases, as there were still many men who did not lodge reports because of various reasons, including shame for being abused and being seen as "weak" to have been abused by women, said Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Rohani Abdul Karim.

While abuse was usually thought to be physical, most cases involving men were emotional in nature, she said.

"Although it's not common to hear of such cases, they do exist.

"In fact, more men are coming out to report and these cases are treated similarly to abuse cases involving women."

Marital or relationship disputes are reported as the No. 1 reason for abuse, followed by money problems and disagreements over the children.

Domestic violence is generally defined as physical, sexual, financial and psychological abuse directed towards one's spouse, partner or other family members.

An online explanation stated that it might be difficult to recognise domestic abuse against men because early in the relationship, one's partner might seem attentive, generous and protective in ways that, later, turn out to be controlling and frightening.

Rohani also revealed that the Malaysian Family Welfare Index 2011 score was 7.55 out of 10. She attributed this less than satisfactory score to economic factors.

From January to June this year, 22,165 divorce cases for Muslims and 141 for non-Muslims were recorded by the National Registration Department.

The leading causes for divorce were non-conformity between spouses, an irresponsible partner and jealousy, Rohani said.

Many initiatives have been carried out by the government to help married couples protect the sanctity of their marriage and maintain harmony, such as flexible working hours, where parents can adjust the time they work, so that they can spend quality time with the family. Many employers have taken up this initiative.

Although abuse cases against men by women are considered rare, it is a call for help and requires a closer look at the status of society.

On Oct 22, the Domestic Violence Act 1994 was amended under the Penal Code (amendment) Bill 2013.

It sees the inclusion of a six-month jail term or a RM2,000 (S$779.79) fine or both if a person is found guilty of injuring his or her partner. The penalty applies to women and men.