Activists want a ministry for men
Meenakshi Sinha | TNN
New Delhi: Men’s rights activists want domestic violence laws to be gender-neutral. Armed with statistics of high suicide rates among men, their wish list includes a ministry for men’s welfare, a national commission for men and a review of the antidowry law, which they claim is grossly misused.
“Men are suffering from ‘legal terrorism’ at the hands of some women. If you can have a ministry for animal welfare, why not one for the welfare of men’’ asks Swarup Sarkar, coordinator, Save Family Foundation, Delhi.
According to the 2007 National Crime Records Bureau, 57,593 married men have committed suicide compared to 30,064 married women. Men’s activists say while these figures should be self-explanatory, women’s suicides are often ascribed to marital woes while men’s cases are mostly put down to financial problems.
Sarkar feels men need a ministry to look into their specific issues on the lines of ministry of women and child development. The proposed ministry’s main concerns would be to redress legal issues that are otherwise tipped in favour of women, he added.
Sandeep Bhartia, president, Gender Human Rights Society, also wants a national commission for men on the lines of the National Commission for Women. “It is the need of the hour,’’ he says. Bhartia gets a minimum of two-three cases per month of men claiming spousal harassment.
Men’s activists also feel that since multiple organizations, both indigenous and from abroad, cater to women “to attract international funding’’, they are under pressure to tell a one-sided story. “At present, there are about 30 new proposals by NCW and WCD,’’ says Bhartia, who feels that it’s time some organization is required to tell the story from men’s perspective.
Agrees Kamal Vikram, member, GHRS. “Men are suffering in silence. It’s the only country where the father is not considered important for the child,’’ he says.
These men want a platform to discuss and redress their problems and be part of a solution. “We want to be heard,’’ says Kamal. And for this, they’ve repeatedly petitioned the government.
The group says it has found support in this endeavour from fellow organizations like SIF (Save Indian Family), an online group that claims to have more than 3,000 members. Others include MASI (Mothers and Sister Initiative), an NGO of women members only and SFF (Save Family Foundation). All these organizations claim to be gender-neutral in their fight for justice.
“We are not saying women’s issues should be ignored, but men’s genuine problems should also be understood,’’ says Bhartia who’s lined up programmes on men’s rights across cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore, Pune and Nagpur.