Indiatimes had quite a rare celebration of International Men’s Day with few images describing how laws are against men. As expected they had to pull down those images after feminists like Kavita Krishnan campaigned against them.
The statements in those weren’t given by MRAs, but this article is to put in perspective what Men’s Rights Activists stand for, because Kavita in her statement has tried to paint Men’s Rights Activists with her own prejudiced outlook for them.
Men’s Rights Activists are trying to raise awareness about men’s issues related to their well-being including mental and physical health. We attempt to reduce the overwhelmingly high and avoidable unnatural deaths of men due to suicides, diseases and accidents. When we speak about gender equality, all roles, rights, responsibilities have to be equitably distributed. Women’s Rights Activists are fighting to liberate women from the role of caretakers in patriarchy and Men’s Rights Activists are trying to liberate men from their patriarchal roles of protectors/providers.
In the patriarchal set-up, role of providers/protectors puts a lot of stress on men. The false sense of machoism that men have to cloak is a legacy of the patriarchal system. It blocks men from seeking emotional support when they need it, for the fear of being labeled as weak. Patriarchy stops men from seeking help when they face domestic or sexual abuse. Men’s Rights Activists are fighting to break these stereotypes, so that men begin to extend their hands and seek support instead of stressing themselves to death or taking the extreme step of suicide.
The number of married men committing suicide is twice that of the number of married women committing suicide. We, at Vaastav Foundation, co-authored by a PhD scholar and myself, conducted a study on the suicide data of the past 50 years from NCRB. http://vaastav.org/in-news/press-release/ Our study found that for 24% cases of men committing suicide, the reason is ‘Family issues’, in 23% of cases it is ‘Illnesses’. Financial trouble is just prevalent in 2% of the cases of suicide of men, yet the perception is that men commit suicide due to economic reasons. In the year 2014, 59774 married men committed suicide, which means every 9 minutes one married man commits suicide.
This is an issue that needs to be urgently addressed in the context of mental health of men. It is unfathomable, why feminists should have any problem whatsoever for men highlighting this issue on Men’s Day. What is anti-woman about a statement that men are committing suicides in alarming proportions?
There have been studies which say about 70% of rape cases filed in India are ‘vengeance complaints’ According to a study by ‘The Hindu’, it is found that in 40% of the cases, parents of the female file a case of rape against the man, when a couple elopes for marriage. http://www.thehindu.com/data/the-many-shades-of-rape-cases-in-delhi/article6261042.ece
30% of rape cases were that of woman filing a rape case on her partner for ‘sexual intercourse at the false promise of marriage’. This is generally found when a relationship breaks down. Most of such cases end up in settlement through money. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Failed-live-in-relationships-leading-to-rape-cases/articleshow/49312337.cms
Courts have repeatedly mentioned that these kind of cases drive away the seriousness from genuine rape cases too and need to be curbed. The conviction rate stands at an abysmal 24%, which means close to 76% of rape cases could not be proven true.
The statistic of 53.2% of rape cases being false has been admitted by the Delhi State Commission for Women itself. http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/false-rape-cases-in-delhi-delhi-commission-of-women/1/409320.html The reason why the feminists are now having an issue with this statistic, can only be explained by them.
IPC 354 now has sub section A, B, C, D which deal with Crimes against Women such as groping, molestation, stalking, voyeurism. The process of filing these non-bailable cases is that female complainant has to give description of the incident and the perpetrator is immediately arrested. We have had cases of molestation/ stalking filed for the most frivolous of incidents. In Jasleen Kaur vs. Sarvjeet case which was quite well highlighted in the media until the truth came out, a traffic argument was filed as a case of molestation. In a famous case of Chate coaching classes owner having a heated argument with a woman, a molestation case was registered. An ex-girlfriend files a case against a famous industrialist for holding her arm in an argument, as molestation. A famous singer/ organizer of a festival function is charged with molestation when he taps on the shoulder of a woman and asks her to not obstruct other audiences view. He has to go through the trial inspite of having evidence of what happened having been captured, in a CCTV recording.
How then is this image any way wrong? These have been well reported in the media. In Rohtak Sisters case, the girls who actually assaulted boys were hailed as bravehearts until the women of the village stood up for the boys. The boys careers stand ruined as Indian Army has not allowed them to take exams. Irrespective of the side you take of the gender divide, real criminals should get punished, similarly irrespective of whether you are a women’s or a men’s rights activist, false accusers should be punished too and no innocent should be unnecessarily be troubled due to false cases.
The figure ‘98% of cases filed under Sec 498a are false’ comes from a study done by Centre for Social Research in 2005. The report says “Out of 100 cases that are ordered for investigation under 498A, only in 2 cases does the accused get convicted.” https://www.worldpulse.com/sites/default/files/post/5246/10858/post_document/950e0c8b7f886ed9aa9b5e510f0175df/csr_report_summary.pdf The statement is based upon the arguable premise, that a case which does not turn in conviction is considered false, which is either filed to ‘pressurize’ the husband to settle or just in vengeance to get husband and his family arrested.
Even a two month old baby has been charged with dowry harassment in Mumbai. Seniors citizens, children, relatives, neighbours of men, all have borne brunt of false 498a cases, 90% out of which on a yearly basis end up in either quashed/withdrawn cases or acquittals. Supreme court has termed this as ‘legal terrorism’, commissions after commissions have asked for amendment in this law as many lives have been extinguished due to the sheer misuse of this law. Anybody denying this fact is just not being truthful enough, whatever the percentage of false cases be considered. Inspite of SC guidelines, a quarter million people were arrested even in 2014 under this law. Certainly more is expected in this regard, of the people calling themselves champions of human rights.
Often court rooms have witnessed cases where in the petition the woman asks for custody of the child, but confesses in trial that no issue has been born out of the wedlock. The lawyer just forgot to erase the section demanding child custody from the template from where he copied the petition. The brother of husband is charged with molestation case, but upon a bit questioning it is found that there is no brother of the husband in existence. Sometimes dates are mentioned of abuse, those dates when the couple had not even met yet, forget being married. Abuse by father-in-law is alleged, where the father of the man had died during the husband’s childhood.
It doesn’t require much intelligence to understand that many times, the complaints are a template and only names/ dates are changed. This also means that allegations which suit the prosecution are slipped in, but could be completely false.
Frankly, 98% of cases being fake is less if the number of convictions is considered with respect to the no. of cases registered. According to this report in Deccan Herald, the Women and Child Development Minister admitted in parliament that a total of just 8 cases resulted in conviction out of a whopping 19539 cases registered in the year 2009 and 2010 together. http://m.deccanherald.com/content/296671/low-conviction-rate-domestic-violence.html/ Just calculate the percentage of cases that result in withdrawal or acquittal. This figure of false cases, is not just for a couple years, the story is the same year on year.
Talking about Protection of Women against Domestic Violence Act 2005, the law is so vaguely worded, even former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee had rightfully predicted when it was being introduced, that it would become a paradise for lawyers and a nightmare for enforcement authorities. http://archive.indianexpress.com/news/domestic-violence/15595/1 Women and Child Development Minister Renuka Chaudhary had said, we should get the law first, if it is being misused then we could change it. 10 years down the line there is no mention about changing it anywhere inspite of courts calling the bluff of women misusing it at many instances. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/madurai/Court-warns-woman-against-misuse-of-Domestic-Violence-Act/articleshow/47728443.cms
MRAs are asking, if this law is so good, why not extend it to men as well? The only change required is to make it gender neutral in all its aspects. Lets be secular, gender equal in the real sense and have this law named as Protection Against Domestic Violence Act for all three genders.
What happens if the wife uses a loosely worded vague law which punishes husband for confining wife inside house? Adultery is impossible to prove until there is photographic evidence in compromising position of the wife and her paramour. How does the husband prove that wife was going to meet her paramour so he tried to stop her? On the other hand, if husband is not able to have photographic evidence of his wife and paramour in compromising position then alleging such a thing is also cruelty. We have cases where husband continues the marriage with an adulterous wife only for the love of the child, lest it would be taken away from him on separation.
IPC 497 clearly states that only the paramour of the wife can be punished under this adultery law. The wife cannot be charged for punishment inspite of being proved in court of law that she was in an adulterous relationship. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/women-cant-be-prosecuted-for-adultery-supreme-court/article2687318.ece We have never seen feminists fight to get punishment included for women too or any change in this law.
International Men’s Day is not just about appreciating men, but also making men aware of the toll their roles as ‘protectors/providers’ takes on them and liberating them from patriarchal bondages. It is about helping men to follow their passions without being shackled to their roles of providers. It is about creating awareness among men to focus upon their health. Men’s Rights Groups organize cycle rallies and participate in marathons encouraging men to focus on their health, conduct blood donation and medical camps to create awareness about diseases, arrange vehicular PUC check-ups and bike rallies creating awareness about road safety. Men and women in Men’s Rights Groups are doing all this and much more that self-funded models can allow them to do. Name calling by feminists like Kavita Krishnan and her ilk, is only going to prove self-defeating for them.
Some issues of men’s rights activism are covered in this TEDx Talk:
Need for Men’s Rights :
In the end, I would just like to mention that if feminists really were gender equality activists then there would not have been any ground for men’s rights activists to talk about injustice to men. In a way, we are the face of their failure. But Men’s Day isn’t an occasion for this negativity. It is to celebrate manhood without any guilt, without any sense of superiority, without any strain of stress about being a man.
Belated wishes on Men’s Day to all.
Vaastav Foundation, Mumbai
All India Men’s Helpline SIF-ONE – 8882 498 498