We explore how the changes in Indian law have left men in the lurch…
In our recent story ‘Live-ins – the law of the land?’ we looked at how the court’s decision to ask a man to compensate his live-in partner for not marrying her had opened a Pandora’s box. From bloggers, lawyers, to the junta at large, most seemed to eye the ruling with apparent misgivings. But the section of society that is the most worried, or rather, outraged by some of the recent changes in Indian law, is no doubt the men. Be it the Domestic Violence Act passed by the government last year or the recent ruling of the Rajasthan High court that stated that a wife could live with her paramour – men seem to have been shortchanged by the entire judicial process. Or so the responses of our readers, bloggers, and a cross section of men we spoke to leads us to believe.
‘The law is biased against men’
According to most of our readers, the law is becoming increasingly biased against men. Can’t a woman live-in partner walk away? Does the law protect men? Does the Domestic Violence law protect men against women? These are only some questions most men are asking. As one reader writes, ” I am astonished that the Indian judiciary system is run by backward thinkers. What is the itch to “protect” women and make them even “weaker”? In the Western world all this is not heard of…..We can never be a developed nation without strong social objectives. The law is biased against men.”
“I think the Indian law has always favoured women; men have always had a tough time trying to prove their innocence,” feels Shirish, a self-employed design solutions expert.
While men are crying out loud, their plea for help may not be in vain. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 44.7 per cent of married men committed suicide in 2003 as compared to 25 per cent of married women who succumbed to domestic abuse that year.
“The number of false dowry and even higher number of abuse cases have increased in recent years. With the Indian criminal justice system being so lethargic, and its inherent bias against men, most of the abused husbands have no option but to put up with the abuse, mental, emotional and even physical,” writes a blogger.
‘Women are misusing the law’
And it’s not just the unfair nature of the law that is bothering Indian men. What’s most worrying is the fear of being falsely implicated by women. Here what one reader has to say: “Women are misusing the security provided by law. The law is in favor of women and is creating lot of problems for men who are innocent.”
According to Indrojit, a marketing consultant, “Though the law is required to protect women, at the same time, it is quite evident that a few women are twisting the law in their favor to gain monetarily. There needs to be a check on that. Just because a woman files a petition at the National Commission for Women doesn’t mean she is right and the man is wrong! And that’s precisely why you have these cells coming up for men; these little posters advertising a community of men who are harassed by women under the pretext of law.”
Call for help
This community of men who have joined hands to “fight the evil of ‘misuse of 498a’ (commonly known as dowry law) is one of the few organizations that have been set up in recent years to help people, specifically men, who have been falsely implicated. Officially known as the Save Indian Family Foundation, the community first came into existence three years ago on the Internet and mainly comprised of techies and software engineers. Today, the organization consists of more than 2000 plus members across the world and about 400 in the US and aims to “provide clarity about the law” to men in distress.
According to Ashish Mukhi, president of the Delhi chapter of Save Indian Family Foundation, the Indian law is biased against men, almost to a ‘ridiculous extent’. “This law (domestic violence) has been derived from the US. But in the US the law clearly states that a victim can be irrespective of race, color, class, or ‘gender’. The ‘gender’ word has been excluded from Indian law. In India, about 20-30 per cent of men or their family members have been abused by their wives. And in almost all cases of family abuse, the woman is the abuser,” he says.
“In the US the law covers sexual, mental, physical, emotional abuse. In India they have included verbal abuse in the law. It is a mistake. Verbal abuse is not measurable. Also the provision that ‘the decision can be arrived at the sole testimony of the woman’ is completely wrong. Every person should have a right to defend himself. It’s a basic human right!” he adds.
With organizations such as Save Indian Family Foundation championing their cause, more and more men are proclaiming their ‘basic rights’ with increased fervour. Will they be heard?
Source: The Times of India