‘Harassed’ men set up meet

New Delhi, Aug. 8: When the country celebrates one more year of Independence next Saturday, dozens of non-government organisations will be in the middle of a brainstorming session to work out a plan for a different kind of freedom.

For “harassed” males.

Their objective: create pressure groups and “sensitise” MPs into framing gender-neutral laws. The existing laws, they say, are biased against men.

The 50 NGOs, under the banner Save Indian Family, and more than 200 activists will assemble in Mumbai from August 14, the day the conference starts. The meet ends on August 16.

“The conference will evolve a strategy to create pressure groups to sensitise parliamentarians to formulate laws to address male-specific issues and work for gender-neutral laws,” said Kumar Jahgirdar, national president of the Children’s Right Initiative for Shared Parenting (CRISP), a Bangalore-based NGO spearheading the movement for gender-neutral laws.

Kumar, who spoke to The Telegraph from Bangalore, said the conference would discuss threadbare the problems confronting men.

The NGO, which cited studies and figures from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), came up with statistics to back its campaign.

  • In India, it said, a man commits suicide every 5.8 minutes, with family disputes being the single largest reason. In 2014, 89,129 men committed suicide compared to 42,537 women.
    The NGO said a key reason was men have no support system when faced with existing laws like the penal code’s Section 498A, under which a woman can file a case of harassment against her husband and in-laws.
    In one case, the Supreme Court had equated the misuse of this section to “legal terrorism”.
    According to NCRB figures for 2013, of the 9,68,728 undertrials charged under Section 498A, only 17,542 (1.8 per cent) were convicted. “Has the government thought of a rehabilitation plan for such victims of false cases?” Kumar asked.
  • The NGO said false cases of rape had added to the “legal terrorism” and wants women who file false cases to be punished.
  • Marital rape, it said, was another potential weapon of misuse. “A law against marital rape will give many people the scope to lodge false complaints. How does one prove in court whether a sexual encounter was consensual or forced? All privacy will be lost if a married couple starts thinking of legal aspects within their bedroom. We oppose such a move,” Kumar said.

Kumar also pointed out that in matrimonial disputes, family courts were generally biased against fathers. As for laws on workplace harassment, the NGO said they should be made gender neutral.

The three-day meet will also deliberate on the need for a separate ministry and a national commission for men.

Kumar said a memorandum would be signed by all the NGOs and submitted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the conference ends.

Source: The Telegraph

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