Half page article in Woman Bhaskar. Original Article here.
Law made for protection becomes tool of extortion due to misuse
Sonali Singh | Nagpur
Section 498A, formed to protect women from dowry harassment, has become a hot topic of discussion these days due to misuse. As per National Crime Bureau (NCRB), in the year 2007, 187540 people were arrested under Section 498A, of which, the offense could be proven only for 13247 people. 94% of those arrested were found innocent. As per NCRB, in the last ten years there has been a spurt in the incidences of suicides by married men. A law that was supposed to act instrumental in women empowerment and would enable them to speak against their abuse, looks like has today, become a curse for many a families. Nagpur has many families have been at the receiving end of the thunder called false dowry cases. Due to a complaint lodged by either wife or daughter-in-law, under this section, these families have reached the brink of destruction.
Punished for being a sister:
Aditi Vinchurkar’s brother who works in an IT company, got implicated in a 498A case filed by his wife. Aditi, who used to stay separate, was also named in the complaint. Aditi says, that today’s women have become over-ambitious. They want their ways under any circumstances. Making small and petty issues and fights a court case and dragging them in order to harass the entire family is also a result of conspiracies by girl’s parents.
2,30.167 husbands have committed suicide due to misuse of Section 498A in the last 5 years.
In 2007, 187540 persons were arrested under section 498A of which 94% were found innocent.
A family got destroyed:
Sujata Lature’s family, who did a lavish wedding for her son, has been destroyed today, courtesy, misuse of Section 498A. She believes this law has destroyed many well-to-do families. Their daughters-in-law did not return from her parent’s place and in-laws were gifted with a case. Earlier women were taught to respect their in-laws and how to stay well with them, but nowadays they are taught only about laws and rights.
Family is making rounds of court:
Pushpa Dhoble, mother of five daughters and a son, paid the price for not listening to her daughter-in-law’s demand of separating from her son with a false dowry case under Section 498A. Today, her old husband, daughter and son-in-law have no option left but to make rounds of court. As per Pushpa, daughters-in-laws are misguided by their parents.
Not ready to accept it as own family:
Aruna Bhoyer’s son had a love marriage. But is now entangled in court rounds rather than a happy marital bliss. Aruna Bhoyer feels today’s women are educated. Some are working as well. They are understanding as well but not ready to understand the in-laws at all. If anything happens against their wishes they believe in rushing to the courts. As per them in-laws are their husband’s relatives only.
Reasons of misuse:
Daughters-in-law, these days come loaded with legal rights rather than responsibilities from their natal homes. On one hand they want all comforts from husband and in-laws but at the same time do not want to undertake any responsibility. As per Women’s Commission only daughter-in-law is woman. Mothers and sisters of husbands aren’t. Commission talks only about a daughter-in-law’s rights.
– Kiran Kukreja, Spokesperson of Mothers and Sisters Initiative.
Where lays the issue?
Its not that women are not harassed for dowry today. Those who suffer cannot reach the police and the courts. Actually this law’s misuse has become a question mark for police and lawyers more than women. As per Dr. Anupama from Mothers and Sisters Initiative this law has become a source of income for women, police and lawyers. They incite women to invoke Section 498A. Under this Section not only husbands but a large number of mothers and sisters are also inside jail. Even after being acquitted and returning home, they are largely treated as untouchables in the society which looks down upon them as guilty. As per Neena Dhulia, President of All India Mother-in-Law Protection Forum (AIMPF), these false cases of dowry harassment are a cause of humiliation for families. Unmarried males in such families start despising marriage. The situation is so grim that people who have been harassed by these laws have come together to form organizations to fight for their rights. There are hundreds of such organizations in the country. Save Indian Family Foundation is the largest network of such organizations. Harassed husbands have started observing November 19 as “Husband’s Day”. Organizations fighting for husbands feel that these women-centric laws are not only biased but also unconstitutional. Sandeep Bhartiya of Gender Human Rights Society says that it is primarily the women’s rights organizations and feminist organizations who draft these laws and hence the laws are biased. Gurudarshan Singh, founder member of SIF feels that by merely adding a clause of punishment for wife if the husband is found to be innocent will bring down the misuse of the law drastically.