Sub: Peaceful protest against rampant misuse of dowry laws and domestic violence laws.
Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF), an NGO dedicated to promote the cause of Gender Equality and Family Harmony, is organizing a peaceful protest against the deteriorating Indian family culture due to rampant misuse of Section 498A IPC, Domestic Violence Act and the dowry laws. The protest will be held on the 14th February 2009 on M.G.Road in front of Mahatma Gandhi Statue from 10: 00 AM to 1 PM. Nearly 150 people from all walks of life like, Engineers, Doctors, Businessmen, Service class, Government Employees, Software Professionals, NRIs, Chartered Accountants, Finance Consultants to name a few will be joining us in our endeavor to raise voice against this spreading “Legal Terrorism”.
In the last few years, marriage has become a crime for Indian men. Multiple cases, containing false and baseless allegations, under Section 498A and the Domestic Violence Act are being filed against Husbands and their parents and relatives. These false cases are filed with a pervert motive of, either treating the Husband as FREE ATM MACHINE, separate him from his immediate family, to grab his property, to hide the wife’s illicit relationships and extra marital affairs, to deny access of his children to the father, or for any reasons other than actual Dowry Harassment and Domestic Violence.
There is no investigation done on the complaints received, nor any evidences are verified before registering a case and arbitrarily arresting people. Because of such malpractices, more and more number of married men are losing their jobs and committing suicides as well. Some shocking statistics, regarding the misuse as per data available from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB),
- 1,23,000 women (mothers, sisters and other female relatives of husbands), have been arrested in the last four years (2004-2007) merely on the basis of complaints by wives under Section 498A, without trial or investigation, whereas even the barbaric British Government arrested only 20,000 women in 40 years.
- 57,000 married men have committed suicide in 2007, of which 16,000 are directly due to domestic abuse. In the last 11 years (1996-2007) 1,56,000 married men have committed suicide directly due to domestic violence. Equivalent figures for women are 83,787 which means in the last 11 years the number of married men’s suicides has been 1.86 times that of married women’s suicides.
- Family disputes and Domestic Violence is the number one killer for married men as 26% of suicides are directly attributed to the above cases.
In addition to the above, a study done by the Center for Social Research, a Govt. body has found that there is only 2% conviction in dowry cases. Keeping in mind the fact that in dowry cases, it is the accused that have to prove their innocence rather than prosecution proving them guilty, as the accused is innocent until proven guilty. If the complaints had been true there should have been 100% conviction. But an abysmally low rate of conviction only shows that the complaints are entirely false, uninvestigated and totally unprosecutable.
But the criminal justice system has broken to such an extent that it has become a handy tool in the hands of unscrupulous people to utilize it as a tool to settle personal scores. Some of the problems that people face who are falsely accused in such cases, are:-
- Their productive years are wasted in the precincts of a litigating corridor fighting an unnecessary battle that ultimately declares them innocent after a long and arduous legal battle.
- Their social prestige and reputation are brutally murdered and perhaps never restored.
- Many people lose their jobs and commit suicide being unable to bear the pressure.
- Multiple cases in various cities, as per the wish of the wife, are filed for the same false stories and husbands are forced to pay maintenance even before the matter is decided, in the name of interim maintenance and in many cases it has been found that the wife is either earning or well capable to earn but does not do so merely to extort maintenance money from husband. Sometimes they even earn but lie in the courts and get away with it.
- The process itself is more barbaric than the punishment.
It is not merely a false case that is lodged. But on one complaint the entire state machinery of law and order is set in motion against the husband and his family who are humiliated, terrorized and traumatized by the process and even blackmailed and extorted in the name of ‘settlement and compromise’. The criminal justice system has lent itself to be used as a state sponsored tool in the process funded by tax payer’s money, 82% of which is paid by men. Even the Honorable Supreme Court in its various landmark judgments has coined the term “Legal Terrorism” to such rampant misuse of dowry laws and urged the Government to take immediate steps to put checks and balances in the system.
Very recently Honorable Chief Justice of India Shri. K.G.Balakrishnan has expressed serious concern over the growing misuse at a Seminar organized by the National Commission for Women. Added to that, Honorable Chief Justice of Karnataka Shri P.D.Dinakaran had also voiced the problems that men face when false cases under Domestic Violence Act are lodged against them at a workshop organized for Awareness of Domestic Violence Act. Even Honorable President of India Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil has agreed in a recent speech, that there is widespread misuse of the dowry laws by women in the country. Time and again various judges of the High Court and Supreme Court have repeatedly expressed displeasure on the misuse of dowry laws and Domestic Violence Act and have recommended several corrective measures which have fallen on deaf ears so far, sadly enough.
SIFF receives weekly 250 – 300 calls over its various helplines from husbands all over India and abroad about not only the misuse, but also how they are facing rampant domestic violence from their wives and in-laws which can be physical, emotional, mental, and economic in nature. And SIFF has been creating awareness about this issue through its various awareness campaigns wherein it has repeatedly urged the Government to take note of this issue. However, the current form of the Domestic Violence Act does not allow husbands to make a complaint of domestic violence and get relief. And there is no proposal from the Government to review it either despite SIFF and its partner NGOs making repeated requests to the Government.
SIFF is deeply concerned that the family system in India is in grave danger. When foreigners are looking up to Indian customs and marrying as per Indian traditions, our own people have gone blind in aping the western culture in the name of Westernization. Our cultural values and respect for tradition is getting lost as the youth, today is more concerned about its own liberalism and individuality rather than family values. Vested interests call the Indian family as oppressive and brainwash the young minds against the family system. The Government is urged to call upon a national debate to address the issue of the dying family system of India.
In this protest on 14th February 2009, SIFF places its demands before the Government and the society as follows:-
- Form a National Commission for Men and a Men’s Welfare Ministry to look into the issues that men are facing.
- Clear the huge backlog of pending matrimonial cases and appoint evening courts and more judges for the same.
- Allow the citizens, especially the youth to participate in policy decisions affecting their life.
- Eliminate all gender biased laws and replace them with Gender neutral laws by replacing the words “Husband” and “Wife” with “Spouse” and “Man” and “Woman” with “Person”.
- Eliminate all redundant legal provisions of applying for maintenance by the wife.
- Amend the Domestic Violence Act which currently does not cater to female to female violence, female to male violence and male to male violence.
- Police should be kept away from the family matters and there should be no ‘counseling’ whatsoever in police station.
- Child interviews should be totally banned in child custody cases as in most of the cases the custodian parent poisons the child against the non-custodian parent. Interviewing such a child is a torture on the child.
- Misusers of laws should be punished with severe punishment. In a criminal case either the complainant or the accused have to be punished depending on whether the complaint is false or true. No settlement should be allowed in criminal cases.
- Owing to skyrocketing suicides due to family distress and domestic disputes, a national debate needs to be called for. The debate needs to address the issues the current family system faces.
- There should be no discrimination of taxes at the same salary levels on the basis of gender.
- The police, the mediators and the courts need to be sensitized about the issues of men and should be trained adequately to understand the problems of a husband before terrorizing him into a forced settlement. Monetary compensation for a broken marriage should be the last resort and should be resorted to only in the rarest of rare cases and cannot be more than six months of the income of the earning spouse.