Relaxing on a fine evening after finishing the day’s business, I got a message on my mobile, “Sunanda Pushkar is no more….” from a friend. I thought he is kidding and asked him to complete the sentence, only to realize, I wasn’t updated on the latest news. Checking the news, I found it to be true – “Sunanda Pushkar, wife of Union Minister, Shashi Tharoor was no more”.
Before I could realize, there was an online storm on twitter and facebook demanding arrest of Shashi Tharoor and also that, a case under section 304 B, be booked against him. Ironically, this demand was coming from none other than the men’s rights activists. And a close scrutiny of the posts clearly revealed that it was a sarcastic take on the double standards and hypocrisy of the society that is generally after the man when a relationship breakdown happens or the woman (wife/live-in partner/girlfriend) in the relationship dies.
However, contrary to other cases, what we witnessed was a complete violation of law and the general practice. Instead of arresting Tharoor directly, the media and the Govt. wanted to investigate the case first (unlike other cases) and that too, on a letter from Shashi Tharoor to Sushil Kumar Shinde, the Honorable Union Home Minister of India.
In fact, an inquiry under a Sr. Divisional Magistrate (SDM) was also conducted which finally gave clean chit to Tharoor. So, it’s like saying that a man’s wife has died an unnatural death within seven years of marriage and because he wrote a letter to the police that her death must be investigated properly, he won’t be arrested under Section 304B (Dowry Death) even though the death of his wife satisfies the definition of the section.
Some more interesting points about Sunanda’s death,
- There was clear evidence of an estranged relationship between the two given the nature of their tweets days before her death.
- There was an alleged affair between Mehr Tarar and Tharoor leading to the conflict.
- There were media reports indicating that both of them have had arguments at the airport and the hotel and Congressman Manish Tewari trying to intervene in between.
- People had seen Sunanda entering the washroom crying and with tears in her eyes.
- The same day she dies mysteriously.
Notwithstanding these facts, if Tharoor can be given a clean chit, why not other men who are facing criminal charges merely because their female partners died/committed suicide?
Had it not been for Shashi Tharoor, the man would have been immediately arrested under Section 304B and would have been sent behind bars for months together.
Now, let us have a look at some other such similar cases.
Bollywood actor, Navin Nischal was arrested for his estranged wife’s suicide even when they were undergoing separation and were not staying together. Yet, when his wife committed suicide, he was charged under Section 304B and was sent behind bars.
Upcoming Bollywood actor Sooraj Pancholi, son of veteran actor Aditya Pancholi was arrested and sent behind bars and has now been charged under section 306 – abetment of suicide – when Jiah Khan had committed suicide last year. When, she committed suicide, both of them were not even in a relationship; they had broken up and were not in touch with each other. Yet, there was a huge hue and cry being made by feminists and media to arrest him and ultimately, he was arrested.
Even with incriminating evidence, that he isn’t responsible for her suicide and Jiah was a patient of depression, Sooraj is still not spared.
And the next case that I am going to talk about, many may not be even aware of this case. This is the case of Dr. Paras, who was jailed for 77 days as his psychologically ill wife committed suicide and he was charged under Section 304 B for the same. While releasing him on bail, the court clearly observed that his wife was not in a proper mental condition, but still Dr. Paras was held for her suicide, even though he wasn’t responsible for it.
The pertinent point to be observed is the severity with which these sections are applied on men who go through relationship crisis as the society views the relationship breakdown through a gynocentric prism belittling the pain of the male and trivializing the emotional turmoil of men.
And seeing the rampant wave of misandry it was but expected that even Shashi Tharoor would be arrested first and sent behind bars and later it would be given a thought to investigate the matter and find out if he was really responsible for his wife’s death. However, that did not happen and men’s rights activists exposed the hypocrisy and double standards of the Indian Govt. and the media. It was shocking to see Sonia Gandhi, a general proponent and supporter of gender biased and anti-male laws, backing Tharoor even in the demand of his resignation.
The key question that arose was that when every year thousands of innocent men are being thrown behind bars under the charge of Dowry Death (Section 304 B), merely because their wives die within 7 years of the marriage, why was Tharoor being accorded special treatment?
Keeping aside these double standards and the clear difference in the treatment meted out to a powerful and influential men vis-à-vis powerless or not so powerful men, which is in reality a dangerous aspect for men, there is one more dangerous aspect for men, when it comes to relationship with women.
The male world isn’t homogenous:
First, let us explore how the first aspect is dangerous. Seeing the above examples, it is very clear that society treats powerful men and powerless men differently. Showcasing the examples of how powerful men escape punishment (which is a reality), and considering the male world to be homogenous, stringent and inhuman anti-male laws are drafted which ruin the lives of powerless men when they are trapped in these laws.
And fearing such dangerous outcomes, most men live a life of suffering, denial and constant struggle and they think this is the only way to survive in an anti-male world that suppresses the suffering of the male with a rhetoric meme of “male dominated world” and “patriarchal society”. This adds to the suffering of men as the voices of sufferers are silenced.
Relationship with a woman is a double edged sword for men:
And the second aspect that is dangerous for men is the fact that a relationship with a woman is like a double edged sword for men. Damn if they are in it, damn if they aren’t in it. We have already seen and it’s a known fact now that if your girlfriend or wife commits suicide, your life will be doomed. Your career, reputation, life, everything shall go for a toss and you shall be provided with no listening and you would suddenly become a dreaded criminal for the society. And it won’t matter as to why she committed suicide or were you even the person responsible for it, however, the needle of suspicion shall point at you constantly just like the north pole of a magnet points in a constant direction.
However, this is just the beginning of the irony for men. The sadder part of the story is that society looks down upon those men who don’t want to have women in their life. Mostly, such men are tagged as losers, if they haven’t achieved extra-ordinary feats in the life like Ratan Tata, Atal Behari Vajpayee or Abdul Kalam Azad. If an ordinary man decides to stay away from women, given the risks, then the standard flurry of arguments that he faces are,
- Is he gay?
- Is he impotent?
- He is incomplete
- He is a loser.
- Which woman would go with such a man?
- Get a life, man
- He must be a womanizer
- Learn, how to handle women
- He is misogynist
- He deserves to be alone
And the above arguments are just illustrative and not exhaustive of how men, who prefer to stay away from women, are singled out and considered to be abnormal. The same argument does not hold good for a woman. If women chose to remain away from men, they are all the more encouraged to do so, and are considered bold enough to take a stand in an otherwise male dominated world.
Not only this, men also face a lot of other social problems, like getting a house for rent. Society generally tends not to let out houses to single men and most people who let out houses ask men to get a family before they can get a house.
When they want to buy a house, most banks coerce men to add their wife’s name as a co-applicant.
These and many other social constructs demean, isolate and demoralize single men forcing men to be a in a relationship with a woman as every man cannot rebel against stereotypical social mindset.
Also, as women know it very well, that the brunt of the fallacy of a relationship shall befall only on the man, and not on themselves, they abuse men unabated in their relationships, even blackmailing them with threats of committing suicides. Imagining the outcomes, the man surrenders and dances to the tune of the woman at the cost of being called henpecked, unmanly, etc.
Men live such lives primarily because society has a non-acceptance for single men who haven’t performed really great in their lives and are commoners. There is a complete absence of men’s community wherein men can live in male spaces, share their life with their buddies and live their lives devoid of the fear of being called unmanly at the whims and fancies of other person or without the fear of being trapped in false cases should the relationship not work.
Currently, these male spaces are very limited for men and till the time there isn’t enough recognition of men’s rights and the need for such male only spaces wherein men can have a free communicational space, it will continue to be a sad reality that a relationship with a woman would be a double edged sword for men.