19th July 2005 – The Honorable Supreme Court of India passed a landmark judgement in which it said that “Misuse of Section 498A against men and their families unleashes a new form of Legal Terrorism against them”.
Not only did the Supreme Court acknowledge that the dowry law was being used to trap innocent men with false cases, a new coin was also termed for the same. And after that, various bloggers writing on men’s issues filed the internet with the phrase “Legal Terrorism”.
Today, 19th July 2017, 12 years hence, yet even in Section 498A, much hasn’t changed in India for men, let alone any other issues faced by men.
It is an undeniable fact that the trigger point for the emergence of the men’s rights movement in India was “unlawful arrest of innocent men and their families under Section 498A which is the dowry law”, but very soon many other problems of the male world made their way into the narrative by the workers of the movement in some or the other forms.
Between 2007 & 2012, the movement went great guns as we could see a string of protests erupting on both internet and the ground alike. Dharnas, roadshows, cars and bike rallies, internet campaigns, email campaigns, letter campaigns, SMS campaigns, researching about data pertaining to abuse of men, blogging, TV debates, media articles, meeting with MPs, visiting the parliament and what not.
The ground shook beneath the feminists’ feet as their moral high ground of women being victims and divine was being challenged big time and with proper logic and data. Also, the social view that men cannot be abused was being challenged. Existing laws and legal procedures came under the scanner. Proposed laws which were gender biased and poised against men were challenged.
As a movement, we all collectively also succeeded in impeding the process of passing gender laws unilaterally, diluting the totalitarian provisions and also managed to prevent a disastrous law from passing, the law which amended the Hindu Marriage Act such that after divorce, every man would lose at least 50% of his property or an amount equivalent to it.
There were many instances wherein various workers of the movement defeated feminists badly in TV debates so much so that feminists started dreading people working for the men’s rights movement.
Even the parliament had discussions about our protests and whenever we would meet the parliamentarians, they would not only acknowledge problems of the male world, but also expressed helplessness in front of the massive feminist and media machinery which prevented them from taking pro-men measures, though they realized the need and agreed with us in principle.
There were some other minor changes like reducing the intensity and propensity with which men were arrested on an uninvestigated complaint by a woman. It would be far-stretching and overtly arrogant to say that the arrests stopped totally, however, there was an improvement in the situation, what with the Govt. passing various police circulars asking policemen not to arrest without proper inquiry and to use the arrest as a last measure.
Even in the arena of rape cases, many courts came out with the view that many false rape cases were being filed and many a times women converted consensual sex into a rape case in order to take advantage of the situation or protect her chastity in a society that attaches a lot of importance to a woman’s virginity.
Many movies and TV shows spoke about abuse of men. One can see a string of videos on social media which talk about how men can be trapped or how men are misunderstood. We had memes flowing like “Not all men are bad” etc.
One might want to challenge the rosy picture I have drawn above saying that it is a biased evaluation of efforts from someone who was at the helm of affairs and I would not disagree with them. It is indeed a biased evaluation because it is human nature to see that we did it and changes are happening and often in that process we overlook the challenges or the genuine criticism.
And now that I have spoken about the erstwhile golden period in the men’s rights movement, here’s reality dawning upon all of us. Today’s reality is that the movement is practically over and whatever dying remnants are lying scattered over is like a medicine way beyond its expiry date – so we do have the medicine but it is of no use. Such is the current state of the men’s rights movement in India.
The next obvious question in the reader’s mind would be – Why, when, how? And that is something I am going to answer here. I can answer this question because I have firsthand experience of the behaviors that I am now going to write about which decimated the movement. And since I was exasperated with such behaviors and not willing to be a part of the mess, I chose to stay away from it and just like me, a few other passionate and dedicated workers also chose to do the same. I won’t be taking any names, because this is not about names, it’s about behavior and without introspection these kind of behaviors can seep into any person.
Behaviors which poisoned the environment of the movement and demotivated dedicated workers:
- Confused Ideology: What should have been a very simple ideology of the movement – men’s well-being and right to peaceful existence of men – was complicated by bringing in the “save family ideology”. So, the focus was always reuniting the warring couples and getting quick divorce to get remarried or to get your alienated children back. This confused ideology by many people diluted the whole cause of men’s welfare and in reality, the issue of men’s well-being was never discussed seriously or in depth. Instead of focusing on emotions, many people focused only on the legal system. As a result, there are now too many factions in the movement not willing to see each other eye-to-eye. It may not be wrong to say that the proponents of the “save family” culture stifled the voice of those who were hardcore pro men.
- Owner Syndrome: It must be noted that this was a people’s movement and it got affected due to the bad behavior of a few rotten apples. Few years after it started, as the movement gained momentum, suddenly we observed a new breed of people emerging. These were those people who were hitherto silent or even writing with pseudo-names, but now as the movement was gaining ground, they wanted credit for everything and everyone else’s work. These people started playing politics by doing aunty-gossip, backbiting. They displayed what I call as “Yeh Mera Gaanv hai aur Main Yahan ka Singham (This is my village and I am the head here)” syndrome, which can be called as “The Singham Syndrome” for brevity. These people put themselves above the cause and were consumed by their own megalomania. They started calling themselves as Founders and CEOs. They resorted to abusing people, spreading lies and conniving hands with disguised feminists to undermine the effectiveness of the cause as it fed their ever hungry ego and self-obsessed narcissistic personality. These were those people who were actually losers in their real life and when they came to the movement, they started getting little attention for whatever miniscule they did for the movement, far less in comparison to many unsung heroes and dedicated passionate workers. They got consumed by the attention and wanted to keep it coming and to achieve that they undermined the larger noble intention of the movement and left no stone unturned in converting it into a platform that satiates their ego cravings.
- Boot-Lickers: Then there was another category of people whom I would prefer to call as the “Government Employee Syndrome”. These are those people who massage the ego of “The Singhams” of the movement described in point no. 2 These boot-lickers convinced themselves that no matter what we must have a “Yes-Yes” culture for the founders and the CEOs even if they are wrong. The boot-lickers did this to protect their own insecurities, incompetence much like The Singhams were masquerading their own insecurities and incompetence under the vulnerable sheath of superficial positions and hierarchy within the movement. The boot-lickers amplified the narcissistic attempts by The Singhams which only accelerated the downfall of this much needed cause.
- War of Credit: Last but not the least, was the uncalled for war of credit. The “I did this” and “I started this” phenomenon which was also the result of the insecurities of The Singhams made this infant movement a platform for show-off to the effect that people even plagiarized other people’s hard work and called it as their own. This created an unhealthy atmosphere and weakened the overall strength of the cause.
One last question that needs to be answered is – why is it being said that the movement is not working and that is because,
The protests have died down, the media is no longer writing about the movement the way it used to write a few years back, the narrative has been diluted and the issues that men are facing neither see any resolution nor any mention about it. There is no ground activity happening, everything’s just happening on the social media and it dies down there. The education and awareness about men’s issues that needs to spread is not happening, there’s no inclusion of either the corporates or the academia and the younger generation of boys and adolescents is just being left out. The so-called movement is cornered around 498A and marriage breaking and ultimately family saving.
The reason I have written this article is to express myself about the thoughts going on in my mind and it remains an undebatable fact that abuse of men is going on. As more and more victimized men approach, they should at least be warned in advance that they are entering into a defunct hospital full of only expired medicines. As they are warned, the choice is with them, to heed or ignore the warning.
I do hope that with this article, some people would introspect their behaviors and rectify the same so that the cause does not die down.