On a cool Sunday morning, as Rukma, a prominent men’s rights activist of the Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF), was sipping tea, his phone rang. Seeing an international number, he probably guessed the purpose of the call (yet another harassed husband as Rukma was a helpline for them), he picked up the call.
To his utter surprise, he found that the caller, who was an Indian calling from Hong Kong City, was a bachelor. As someone who helps married men in distress, a call from a bachelor on his helpline number was a new experience for Rukma. Nonetheless, he received the call.
The caller had called up to know the dangers of getting married in India. His apprehension was, that he owns quite a few properties in India and wanted to know, will his properties be safe, if he gets married?
What with the existing volley of anti-male and unconstitutional laws of the likes of Section 498A, the Domestic Violence Act and more in pipeline like the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill which talks of wife getting 50% of the share in husband’s property if she walks out of the marriage?
The caller was also worried about how he should convince his parents that getting married in India was very dangerous for a man as he endangers losing his entire life’s fortune with one stroke of a false complaint by his wife against him. He was facing tremendous pressure from his parents for getting married soon.
Another incidence was, when SIFF conducted a press conference voicing its grave concerns against anti-male property division clauses in the upcoming Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2010 which was followed by good amount of media coverage and the SIFF helplines were ringing with queries from both married/bachelor men on whether they should drop their plans of buying property or cancel their property bookings. The calls clearly reflected a wave of scare, pertaining to real estate shopping, in young men in the society with the new law.
Men’s Rights Association, a Pune based group batting for battered men, faced a sudden inflow of 45 new members in a single meeting just after they conducted a similar press conference in Pune about the dangers that men will face if the Bill, as proposed, becomes a law. Men, from all strata of society and across all age groups were worried just about one thing – “Is my hard-earned property safe?”
These incidents reflect a very sorry state of affairs for the male gender in India, especially young men, in the age range of 25-45, who are extremely vulnerable to age-old social discrimination against men. Young men constitute the most vulnerable section of the society as they are not only required to fulfill skyrocketing expectations from their families (wife, children, parents, in-laws, etc.) but are also left to fend on their own and no one understands their pains and sufferings.
Ironically, it’s this same lot of men who sweat it out, in order to, not only run their family, but the society at large as well, as it is this same lot that undertakes the most menial, dangerous and hazardous jobs, and it’s the same lot that faces societal ire in the form of ill-conceived anti-male laws which invariably attack the hard-earned wealth/property of a man.
Laws are nothing but vicious reflections of social attitudes, mindsets and assumptions. Especially, when it comes to gender-biased anti-male laws, it’s the assumption that takes center-stage.
It’s the assumption that all men are criminals and all women are saints that makes it very easy for a completely bogus and false case to get registered and the innocent man keeps running from pillar to post to get justice, but mostly, in vain. Because, here again, it’s the assumption that women have been discriminated against historically, while men have somehow enjoyed it, that impedes the path to justice for a falsely accused innocent man.
And, it is the same reason that we have only anti-male laws and no anti-female laws. Invariably all laws related to marriage/gender etc. talk only of arresting and punishing the man (the male) and always view the woman (the female) as a victim. This assumption completely overlooks some crucial facts like:-
- Women criminals are very rarely punished and are paroled at large on account of their gender.
- Historically, it’s the men who have lost far more lives/limbs in order to protect their own city, country, civilizations, contours, etc.
- Today’s generations are descendants of 40% of the men who ever lived and 80% of the women who ever lived, which clearly shows the tremendous amount of male lives that have been lost by the human civilization historically.
- It’s the men who protected and provided for women, children and elders, at their own cost and sacrifices.
- It’s the men who have been committing suicides far greater in numbers compared to women, succumbing to social pressures, skyrocketing expectations and nose-diving acceptance levels.
- Not a single law/procedure has ever been formed that will arrest a woman based on a man’s complaint, however, the reverse has been true since decades and uncountable innocent men have been thrown behind bars, tortured, humiliated and often subjected to barbaric conditions, merely at the unverified complaint of a woman.
Above facts, which are merely illustrative and not exhaustive in nature, are only the tip of the iceberg of the reality called misandry (referred to as social hatred against men).
It’s this misandry that stops the society from supporting awareness about men’s issues and also stops victimized, harassed and distressed men from talking openly about their abuse.
It’s this misandry that allows the unbridled creation of anti-male laws that are downright unconstitutional, undemocratic and inhuman in nature.
Whether, it’s Section 498A (popularly known as the dowry law) or Section 125 CrPC (maintenance law) or Section 376 (rape) or The Domestic Violence Act or the proposed Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill or the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill, the formulation, drafting and the process of getting laws/bills approved and passed clearly demonstrate the extremely high levels of misandrous blood that flows in the societal veins and arteries.
Somehow, the society, including both men and women, enjoy it when the male gender is vicariously attacked. Anti-male laws, when they are passed, form the basis of celebration.
Men, when they are harassed, become objects of entertainment.
And anti-male practices, as they are practiced and promulgated, become foundations of social service.
For example, let’s see how this upcoming Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill works against the interests of men. What came as a proposal to hasten the process of divorce from the Honorable Supreme Court of India was slowly metamorphosed into an effort free channel of passing tax free wealth from husband to wife.
Seeing, the growing number of divorce cases and the same leading to increase in backlog of cases and couples getting involved in redundant litigation, the Honorable Supreme Court of India proposed to introduce the “Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage” clause in the Hindu Marriage Act, which also talked about waiving off the 6 months cool-down period.
All said and done, any proposal that did not talk about “taking care of financial needs of a woman” was just unacceptable to the feminists who raised a lot of hue and cry against it in the media and owing to rampant social misandry and also internal misandry in the media, the Govt. agreed to introduce property division with the following conditions:-
- When a husband files for divorce citing irretrievable breakdown of marriage as the reason, the husband will lose 50% of his property to wife. However, properties owned by wife won’t be considered and also there was no mention about who contributed to the property. Also, it does not matter, when the property was purchased. Also, no clarity was expressed about the existing loans/financial liabilities for and against the property. Moreover, if a woman keeps on marrying and keeps on breaking her marriages, it means she would become a landlord on account of her gender as she ages.
- When a wife files for divorce citing irretrievable breakdown of marriage, although, property division is not explicitly stated, however, the wife has powers to withdraw the divorce case if her “financial needs are not well taken care of”. However, husbands have been deprived of a similar right, only wives can withdraw divorce petitions at their whims and fancies.
Hence, in practice, both the clauses boil down to financial extortion of a man for a failed marriage and thus, the imminent question that arises is, “Is failed marriage a crime for men?”
This proposed bill must not be passed in its current form and there needs to be a national debate wherein organizations fighting for men’s rights must be allowed to incorporate their point of views and interests of husbands, otherwise, this bill, if it becomes law, will lead to:
- Men refraining from buying property.
- Crash of the real estate market.
- The home-loan market going downhill.
- Instances of divorces increasing, wherein, women would just walk out of marriages making false allegations against their husbands and harness their properties.
- Incentivization of family breaking practices.
- More suicides by men/husbands.
- Men refraining from getting married.
- More and more fatherless children as the proposed bill, is silent on child custody matters.
The choice belies with the society if it wants to continue with its frenzy of misandry or take some remedial steps and create gender-neutral laws and policies which work for the benefit of both men and women rather than empowering one gender at the cost of another.
Virag R Dhulia
Head, Gender Studies