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Read on to know what happens to men who marry in India

Harassed husbands call for gender-neutral laws

Posted by iluvshrutiverma on November 1, 2009 – Shruti Badyal

(The journalist’s name is Shruti – and that is my favorite name for obvious reasons)

While much has been discussed about domestic violence against women, are there enough laws drafted to protect men in case of harassment as well? To seek answers for the same, Save the Family Foundation organised a protest against the Domestic Violence Act in the capital recently. According to many activists, the act is full of loopholes and is increasingly being misused by many women. Victims and NGOs working in the city to help harassed husbands now call for gender-neutral laws and highlight the loopholes in the existing laws.

“Section 19 of the Domestic Violence Act says that on the sole testimony of the victim (woman), the judge may presume that some domestic violence may have happened, without listening to the accused. And the judge may also pass a protection order. This is against the basic human rights. Shouldn’t a man be given the chance to prove himself?” says Neeraj Aggarwal, coordinator of the Save Family foundation.

Another section which favours women is Indian Penal Code’s (IPC) section 498A. Niladri Das, secretary, Gender Human Rights Society explains, “Section 498A is a non-bailable offence which protects married women from cruelty subjected to her by her husband or in-laws mainly for the purpose of dowry. And a case can be filed on mental and physical cruelty under this section. Since it’s non bailable, women have misused this law to settle scores in bad marriages and husbands are put behind bars without any evidence. At least this should be made a bailable offence.”

Interestingly, NGOs working in the field stress on the need for many more measures to ensure that there are no loopholes in the law and both genders enjoy equal rights. “Stringent penalties should be imposed on people who misuse this law to discourage its abuse by women, arrests should be made ‘only’ if there is irrefutable evidence of grave physical harm, the trial for 498A must be time bound and completed within 6 months to a year and all anti-dowry laws should be gender-neutral since both giving and taking of dowry are punishable offences,” concludes Dr Anupama Singh, president, Rakhsak, India.

Male victims who have suffered domestic violence blame factors other than just law for the injustice they are subjected to. “Cops play a major role in the process and often harass men without any evidence. My wife filed a case against me, complaining that I beat her but the dates she mentioned in the complaint were days when I wasn’t in Delhi. So when cops knew I had evidence to save myself, they secretly asked them to change the dates and filed a fake chargesheet against me,” says Ashish Kumar Sinha, a software engineer.

One Response to “Harassed husbands call for gender-neutral laws”

  1. neeraj aggarwal said

    This dharna was covered by Malaysian News Agency (Bernama) also and my inputs have been published.

    NEW DELHI, Nov 1 (Bernama) — If ‘Men are from Mars, and Women from Venus’, then, who’s beating the crap out of the Indian man in the sanctity of his marital home?

    It appears that the standard roles appear to have been reversed, at least in India, if the cries of battered husbands are anything to go by.

    Now, helpless and harassed men are demanding for protection from their abusive wives and in-laws.

    While stringent Indian laws have protected the fairer sex from domestic violence, now it is the Indian man who laments he is out in the cold as gender-neutral laws are limited to protect his welfare.

    An increasing number of men fall victim to domestic violence, either in cities or rural areas, according to social activists, though hard data is not readily available.

    “Domestic violence against men has been prevalent but not reported because men are shy to report that they are abused by their wives. Many men suffer in silence,” Neeraj Aggarwal, coordinator of the Save the Family Foundation, told Bernama in a recent interview.

    The foundation, a social organisation set up in 2005 to hear domestic grouses from married men, has set up over 100 helplines across Indian cities and towns.

    It receives about 400 calls every week from harassed husbands.

    Last Sunday, the group even staged a silent protest in the Indian capital to highlight the plight of men on ill-treatment by their female partners and the lack of proper pro-male equality laws.

    “Indian laws are so biased towards women that Indian men dare not lodge reports. The judiciary is under pressure from radical feminists and the courts will only listen to the woman’s side of the story,” said Aggarwal.

    Cases of women ill-treating their husbands and the latter’s parents, verbal and emotional abuses and even husbands threatened by his in-laws are common grouses faced by the men, but they hardly receive any attention, complain activists.

    According to India’s National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB), 57,593 married men committed suicide for various reasons in 2007, as compared to 30,064 married women.

    “Domestic violence is the number one cause of suicide among married men. According to an NCRB survey from 1996 to 2007, 156,000 married men committed suicide but the government had turned a blind eye.

    “The data clearly shows men are also abused but their sufferings are suppressed. They don’t have any communication channel and the attitude of society makes them suffer emotionally, ” said Virag Dhulia, public relations officer of the Bangalore chapter of the Save the Family Foundation.


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