Press Release for Candle Light March for Syed Makhdoom

Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF) and Children’s Rights Initiative for Shared Parenting (CRISP), NGOs working towards the cause of Family Harmony, Gender Equality and Child Rights announces a “Candle Light March” in condolescence of the unfortunate demise of Mr. Syed Makhdoom, who committed suicide on 5th April 2009 after he was no longer able to bear the domestic violence being done on him by his wife and in-laws as they trapped him in false dowry harassment cases and separated him from his child. His suicide came to light on the 9th April 2009 after his landlord grew suspicious.

In a bone-chilling, 8 minute video that he recorded of himself on his mobile, minutes before he committed suicide, Syed Makhdoom expressed the pain that he underwent in an insensitive society and before an insensitive judiciary that trivialized his pain, never understood a father’s feelings and did not grant him visitation to his child which is the natural and biological right of both the child and the father.

Syed Makhdoom’s case is not a one off case. Every year 57,000 married men are committing suicides, unable to bear the torture meted out on them by their wives and in-laws. In the year 2007, 57593 married men committed suicide. Similar figures for the years 2006 and 2005 are 55452 and 52000 respectively as per National Crime Records Bureau. Since 1996 suicide rates have shot up by 40%. Every year the suicide rate is going up by 4% whereas population grows at the rate of 1%. 4 times more men are committing suicides than they are born. Compared to women, the suicide of married men is 1.86 times and grows at 6 times the rate of growth of married women’s suicides.

SIFF and its allied NGOs have been creating awareness about this hidden problem since the past 4 years and has been demanding a Men’s Welfare Ministry but the demands have fallen on deaf ears of the Congress led UPA Government. Hence this election, SIFF appeals to the people, “Vote for any party, but not for Congress”.

Today, April 16, 2009 SIFF and CRISP members are gathering at Gandhi Statue at 7: 00 PM in a “Candle Light March” to pay tribute to the departed soul of Mr. Syed Makhdoom. Additionally we wish to convey this message to the society that “Killing men is not a social service” and men are committing suicides in larger numbers with increasing rate every year, merely for the reason that they are not given proper communication channels to express their problems and an environment where in their problems can get addressed. Hence it is a choice left to the society; it can continue to ignore men and their problems and create a fatherless society or take note of the issue and take responsibility for it as well.

Today in this Candle March, in addition to paying homage to the departed soul of Mr. Syed Makhdoom, SIFF, CRISP and its allied NGOs makes the following demands from the Government of India:

  1. Form a National Commission for Men and a Men’s Welfare Ministry to look into the issues that men are facing.
  2. 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.
  3. Grant interim visitation/custody orders to non-custodian parents within the first month.
  4. Clear the huge backlog of pending matrimonial cases and appoint evening courts and more judges for the same.
  5. 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”.
  6. Eliminate all redundant legal provisions of applying for maintenance by the wife.
  7. Amend the Domestic Violence Act which currently does not cater to female to female violence, female to male violence and male to male violence.
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