Men's rights movement in India
The men's rights movement in India is associated with various men's rights organizations. They demand gender neutral laws and repeal of laws that they consider anti-men.
- 1 History
- 2 Issues
- 3 Khasi tribe
- 4 Criticism
- 5 Organisations
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
The Indian men's rights movement was started by Ram Prakash Chugh, a Supreme Court advocate, in Delhi in 1988 to handle false cases of dowry and torture. It was called Crime against Man Cell also known as Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Husbands. Chugh himself faced problems in his maritial life. In 1996, Purush Hakka Sanrakshan Samiti was formed by Balasaheb Patil to help husbands falsely imprisoned in dowry cases and to help avoid divorces by counseling couples. Sangyabalya, a helpline for husbands and families harassed by anti-dowry laws, was started in June 2003 by Arun Murthy in Bangalore. He started the helpline after his sister-in-law filed a dowry harassment case against his younger brother and his entire family was implicated.
Save Indian Family was founded on 9 March 2005 by the unification of a number of family's rights organizations across India. On 19 November 2007, Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF) observed International Men's Day for the first time in India.
On 25 June 2009, the Ministry of Women and Child Development agreed to meet men activists to listen to their grievances. But, the agenda of the meeting changed a day before to exhort men to stand up against exploitation of women. The activists opposed the change of agenda and called the meeting a "sham". A week later, the ministry said that they received a large number of complaints, many of which appeared legitimate to them. They added that they may consider reviewing the marital laws, although they stated they were reluctant to change them in a way that would weaken their implementation for women.
In September 2008, Save Family Foundation sent a complaint against a Kitply plywood commercial to the Advertising Standards Council of India. The ad showed a wife slapping her husband on her wedding day because of a creaking bed. The complaint alleged that the ad promoted violence against men by portraying it as funny. Swarup Sarkar of Save Indian Family said that violence against women draws strong reactions, but violence against men on public television is ignored. In the same month, Suresh Ram of Chennai-based organization Indiya Kudumba Pathukappu Iyaakam, complained against a Pond's ad which portrayed men as wife-beaters and an ICICI Prudential Insurance commercial which portrayed verbal and economical abuse against men.
In 2009, Child's Right and Family Welfare was formed to demand fairer laws for men, including better child custody and access laws. In April 2010, Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik was accused of cheating by a woman from Hyderabad (India), Ayesha Siddiqui, just prior to his marriage to tennis player Sania Mirza. SIFF released a statement in support of Malik and demanding that his passport be returned. It added its concerns over such misuses of Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code.
On 19 November 2010, the Bangalore chapter of National Coalition for Men, a US based men's rights organization, organised an event called "Save The Male". Issues like father's rights, false dowry cases, high suicide rate among men and domestic violence were discussed. In December 2012, about 15,000 men boycotted Aamir Khan's then recent film Talaash. According to Anil Kumar, one of the founders of SIFF, Aamir Khan portrayed men negatively on his television show, Satyamev Jayate. He claimed that the show provided only one side of the domestic violence issue.
In September 2012, the Ministry of Women and Child Development proposed a bill that would make it mandatory for husbands to pay a salary to their wives. This move was criticized by men's rights groups, including Shonee Kapoor of Sahodar Trust, who called it a bad idea. Sahodar Trust provides legal aid to men in divorce and family law cases.
On 21 December 2013, members of National Coalition for Men held a demonstration outside the offices of West Bengal Human Rights Commission (WBHRC) in Kolkata, stating that former Supreme Court judge Asok Kumar Ganguly, and then chairman of WBHRC, was innocent until proven guilty. Ganguly had been accused of sexual harassment by a law intern. Amit Gupta, General Secretary of National Coalition for Men, said that even if the legal system of India and the UN Charter on Human Rights states that an accused is to be treated as innocent until proven guilty, Ganguly was being held as guilty and subjected to a media trial.
On 11 January 2014, National Coalition for Men in Kolkata asked all political parties in India to include the formation of a men's ministry and a men's rights panel in their manifestos. They also released their own manifesto called "Men-ifesto" which dealt with the issues of men and the need of provisions from the government to address those issues. The demands raised were gender neutral laws, rehabilitation of men who were acquitted, speedy trials of the accused languishing in custody, and equal rights in child custody. The National Coalition for Men also said that they would meet political parties across India to urge them to include men's rights in their manifestos. Amit Gupta said that they may start their own political party if their demands are ignored.
On 28 March 2014, Amit Gupta urged voters across the country to exercise the "None of the above" (NOTA) in the 2014 general elections. According to him, no political party was paying heed to their demands of gender neutral laws and a Ministry of Men’s Welfare.
In early April 2014, Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF) sent out four queries regarding men's issues to various political leaders. Anil Kumar of SIFF said that they would decide which party to vote for in the 2014 election based on the responses. He added that a survey of SIFF members had indicated a lack of support for the Congress party and the Communist Party of India (Marxist). The four questions that were posed are whether the party would introduce a bill to protect men against domestic violence, whether biological fathers should be given partial custody in a shared parenting arrangement in divorces, whether consensual sex with the false promise of marriage should be considered rape and if a man should be considered a rapist for breaking up with his girlfriend, and whether the party would introduce men studies courses in universities similar to other gender studies courses.
On 16 April 2014, men's right groups asked supporters to vote for Samajwadi Party or use "None of the above" (NOTA). Amit Lakhani, an activist of Save Family Foundation based in New Delhi, expressed support for Samajwadi Party by saying that only that political party had included men's issues in their manifesto.
In May 2014, Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF) and INSAAF (Indian Social Awareness and Activism Forum) demanded inclusion of men's issues in the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) conducted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Also in May 2014, Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF) launched a mobile app called SIF One to reach out to men in distress. In the same month, an all India telephone helpline was launched.
In June 2014, Save Indian Family launched its Gujarat chapter and a Interactive Voice Response (IVR) helpline in the state. Amit Gupta stated that the IVR helpline has also been made available in Bangalore, Chandigarh, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai. Another helpline had been also made available for Uttar Pradesh. On 20 July 2014, Save Indian Family (SIF) launched a forum in Bhopal, called Bhopal Against Injustice (BHAI), for men who had been abused or been accused under dowry cases.
Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF) has claimed that the suicide rate of married men is almost twice that of women, due to them being "unable to withstand verbal, emotional, economic and physical abuse" from their wives. SIFF has pointed to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data to show that suicide in married men is much higher than in married women.
Mithun Kumar, a researcher at SIFF, has said that police don't take any action even if the suicide note of a man states that he was tortured by his wife and in-laws, but in case of a woman's suicide her husband's family is taken into custody without investigation. To provide a lifeline to the victims, Save Indian Family Movement has launched a single number helpline across India.
In July 2014, Kumar V. Jahgirdar, president of Child Rights Initiative for Shared Parenting (CRISP), attributed the suicides among married men on family stress. CRISP said that in study conducted by it, it was found that married men committed suicide mainly due to misuse of Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Domestic Violence Act of 2005. Swarup Sarkar, founder of SIFF, pointed that there is no legal provision for married men facing verbal or mental abuse.
In January 2014, of 224 domestic violence complaints filed in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, 160 were filed by husbands. Also, Jabalpur, Amarkantak and Hoshangabad region have a significant number of sadhus who have left their marriage. About 4,500 husbands are missing from family court records in the region.
Ram Prakash Chugh has stated that many times husbands don't report being attacked by their wives with household utensils because of their ego. Swarup Sarkar of Save Indian Family has said that there is no evidence to prove that the domestic violence faced by men is less than that faced by women.
Indian Social Awareness and Activism Forum (INSAAF) and Confidare Research have drafted a bill which aims to protect men and boys from from domestic violence from their spouse, girlfriends and parents. The bill is called Saving Men from Intimate Terror Act (SMITA) and the groups aim to introduce in for debate in the parliament.
False rape cases
Atit Rajpara, co-founder of Men’s Rights Association, has pointed to the low conviction rate in rape cases and argued that most of them are false. Amit Deshpande of Save India Family Foundation has said that several presentations were made to the Justice Verma Committee to include a misuse clause to prevent false cases, but the request were ignored.
In May 2013, the Delhi High Court said that some women were using false rape cases for personal vendetta, harassment, extortion and forcing men to marry them. In August 2013, the Bombay High Court observed filing a rape case after a relationship terminated had become a trend. It added that women filing such false cases should be prosecuted.
Swarup Sarkar of Save Indian Family has stated that these laws assume that women are always truthful, and hence they don't place much importance on evidence.
“This is nothing but terrorist activity by women’s organisations,” said Swarup Sarkar, a member of the foundation, which has also been protesting against the anti-dowry law saying it is heavily misused.
The Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code which deals with cruelty to a wife states that:
Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.
For the purposes of this section, "cruelty" means:
(a) any wilful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical) of the woman; or
(b) harassment of the woman where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security or is on account of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand.
The Section 498a of the Indian Penal Code allows the police to arrest the persons mentioned in the complaint without a warrant or without any investigation. The crime is non-bailable, so chances of getting a bail are low and husbands usually lose their jobs. There is no provision of withdrawing a complaint in case of a reconciliation.
According to Ram Prakash Chugh, about 87% of the women in Tihar jail are there due to dowry charges. He has claimed that sometimes mothers of the bride bring dowry charges on their in-laws when the bride fails to adjust to her in-laws. Organisations like All India Mother-in-Law Protection Forum (AIMPF) and Mothers And Sisters of Husbands Against Abuse of Law (MASHAAL) have been formed to represent such women. According to Sunil Gupta, a spokesperson for Tihar Jail, there 280 in-laws in the prison accused of dowry harassment and most of them are women. The women are held in a separate section of the prison, which has been nicknamed Saas-Nanand (mother-in-law and sister-in-law) barrack.
According to SIFF, these laws don't follow conventional legal premises where a person is innocent until proven guilty. It has also pointed out that several of those who are arrested under this law are women themselves, i.e., female relatives of husbands. According to Swarup Sarkar, spokesman of SIF, men with low incomes are rarely targeted and most victims of misuse are well-off. Former justice of Delhi High Court Shiv Narayan Dhingra has admitted that this law is being used by women to harass their husbands and in-laws. He has opined that parents should not go through with a marriage if dowry is being demanded of them.
According to Ponappa, a Men’s Rights activist from Mysore, and Kumar Jahgirdar, president of the Children’s Rights Initiative for Shared Parenting (CRISP), a non-governmental organisation, a married man commits suicide every nine minutes in India due to the alleged misuse of Section 498a of the Indian Penal Code against them.
Notable verdicts and legal panel reports
In November 2003, the Committee on Reforms in the Criminal Justice System (CRCJS) recommended that Section 498a be made bailable and compoundable.
In July 2005, the Supreme Court admitted that in many instances complaints under the Section 498a of the Indian Penal Code are not bona fide and have oblique motives. The court added that acquittal in such cases doesn't erase the suffering the defendant has to go through, which is compounded by adverse media coverage. The court also directed the legislature to find ways to check such false cases.
In August 2010, the Supreme Court directed the government to amend Section 498a of the Indian Penal Code in view of the rising numbers of false or exaggerated complaints against husbands and their relatives by women. It further added that such complaints result in the husband and his relatives remaining in custody until trial or bail, which kills all chances of an amicable settlement.
On 2 July 2014, the Supreme Court said that this law is being used by some women to harass their husband and in-laws. The court prohibited the police from making arrests on the mere basis of a complaint. The court asked the police to follow Section 41 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, which provides a 9 point checklist on which must to used to decide the need for an arrest. The court also said that a magistrate must decide whether an arrested accused is needed to be kept under further detention.
The decision was in response to a Special Leave Petition (SPL) filed by one Arnesh Kumar challenging his arrest and of his family under this law. The decision was welcomed by men's right activists but was criticized by women rights activists.
Divorce laws and alimony
In October 2010, Supreme Court of India passed a judgment according to which long-term live-in relationships will be considered as marriage. The female spouse then can claim alimony under the Domestic Violence Act 2005 which uses the phrase "relationship in the nature of marriage".
The new Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill 2010 will allow courts to decide compensation to wife and children from the husband's inherited and inheritable property. The bill has provision for "irretrievable breakdown" of marriage where both parties must have lived apart for 3 years before filing for divorce. The bill also allows the wife to oppose the dissolution of a marriage if it will leave her in financial hardship.
The SIFF has protested against the Marriage (Amendment) Bill 2010. According to Rajesh Vakharia, President of SIFF, this bill will encourage divorce and will be expensive to husbands, as they would have to part with their hard earned assets. He has called this bill a regressive move, and has stated that it jeopardizes the financial and social security of a man. He has pointed out that as most men marry after becoming financially secure, the possibility of losing their hard-earned wealth and property will discourage men from marriage and feed the gynophobia in the society.
Kumar V. Jahgirdar, founder and president of the Bangalore-based Children’s Rights Initiative for Shared Parenting (CRISP), has said that the alimony should be decided on the basis of how many years the couple have spent as married. He pointed out that the law doesn't allow the husband to refute the wife's claims. He also argued that it is based on a flawed assumption that the children are always best cared for by their mother. He has also stated that it violates the Article 14 of the Constitution. Swarup Sarkar, founder and member of Save Family Foundation, said that the suggestions offered by them to the Law Minister and the parliamentary committee were ignored.
Derek O'Brien, member of All India Trinamool Congress political party, has argued that this law empowers women at the expense of men. He proposed that this law should be made gender neutral by using the word "spouse" instead of "wife" or "husband". Arvind Kumar Singh of Samajwadi Party said that the law has potential for misuse like the anti-dowry laws and added that it treats men as being responsible for divorces. Vandana Chavan of Nationalist Congress Party has pointed out that the bill was unfair as nowadays, many women earn equal to or more than their husbands.
Although four or five out of ten divorce cases in India allege mental agony, Ram Prakash Chugh has said that if a man brought similar charges to a court, he will be unlikely to get a favourable ruling.
Child custody laws
An organisation named Children’s Rights Initiative for Shared Parenting (CRISP) has demanded better child access laws and has called the current custodial laws gender-biased.
Swarup Sarkar of Save Family Foundation has speculated that now two out of three Indian couples actively share parenting. Kumar Jahagirdar, president of CRISP, has noted a growth in men who are the primary caregivers in the family.
Domestic violence laws
The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 primarily provides protection to wives and female live-in partners from domestic violence carried out by husbands, male live-in partners or their relatives. Domestic violence includes abuse or treat of abuse, whether physical, sexual, verbal, emotional or economic.
Sexual harassment laws
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2013 is not gender neutral. Rajesh Vakahria, a member of SIFF, has pointed out the bill was originally gender neutral until Ministry of Women and Child Development and some other NGOs intervened and changed the name. He said that it was an outdated concept to consider that only women suffer from sexual harassment.
The Khasi tribe in Meghalaya state is matrilinear. The children take the mother's surname. The sons have no rights to property. A family without an heir usually adopts a girl. After marriage, men move into their wives' houses. Their way of life is protected under the Khasi Social Custom of Lineage Act of 1997. The men in this tribe have started a men's liberation movement called Syngkhong Rympei Thymmai (Home Hearth Restructured). It was founded on 14 April 1990. A previous movement started in the early 1960s died out due to lack of support and one of their meetings being attacked by hundreds of women bearing knives. The current movement claims to have 2000 members. According to them, due to lack of responsibility, boys are dropping out of schools, men are resorting to drugs and alcohol and dying before reaching middle age.
Jyotsna Chatterjee, member of the Joint Women’s Programme which was involved in drafting the Domestic Violence Act 2005, has responded to the men's rights movement by stating that compared to the men who have faced the misuse of the anti-dowry law, many more women have suffered. She added that there has been no change in the way society sees women and they are still treated as second-class citizens.
Phanisai Bhardwaj, a Lok Satta Party candidate in Karnataka assembly polls, was found out to be a member of Centre for Men’s Rights, against the Section 498a of IPC and reservations in jobs or education, after he made a post on Facebook in April 2013. He faced a protest campaign against him on the blogosphere, which called the Lok Satta Party "anti-women" and "anti SC/ST". Jayprakash Narayan, founder of Lok Satta Party, called Bhardwaj's position on women "unacceptable". Later, Bhardwaj was asked to withdraw his nomination.
Indira Jaising has argued that men don't need to be covered under the domestic violence act as they have several other rights to appeal with, but women need special rights to defend their lives in a male dominated society.
- Save Indian Family Foundation
- All India Front Against Persecution by Wives (Akhil Bharatiya Patni Atyachar Virodhi Morcha)
- My Nation
- Child's Right and Family Welfare
- Purush Hakka Sanrakshan Samiti
- Gender Human Rights Society
- Save Family Foundation 
- Dowry law in India
- Domestic violence
- Feminism in India
- Men's rights
- Men's spaces
- Save Indian Family (SIF)
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- Save Indian Family Foundation
- Save Family Foundation
- Save Indian Family
- My Nation
- Men’s Rights Association
- Centre for Men's Rights