What about Men’s Right?
By G. L. Pravallika
India is a country having diverse cultures, traditions and beliefs. The Constitution of India gives importance to the Principle of Equality as an essential factor for the development of the society. So why are the laws governing our country inclined towards women? We talk about Feminism but what does it actually mean? The dictionary defines Feminism as the belief that women should be allowed the same rights, opportunities and powers as men and be treated in the same way or the set of activities intended to achieve this state. So, Feminism means treating both men and women equally by treating them in a similar manner without any kind of bias or prejudices or stereotypes. Many people have a false impression in their minds regarding Feminism. They think that it is ‘hating men’ or it is showcasing ‘female superiority’. But this is not true. Feminism has always been misunderstood as a celebration of womanhood. The concept of Feminism had come up because a woman in the society is usually economically disadvantaged, at higher risk for sexual abuse and intimate partner violence. It was to protect her basic human rights. But many feminist groups have brought a bad reputation to the concept of Feminism in order to suit their own agendas. This has to be stopped and mindsets of the people have to be changed. The laws have to be made gender neutral in order to serve the very purpose of enacting the law i.e. to serve justice to the people and maintain peace and harmony in the society. But this is not being done.
There has been a misuse of laws which were enacted for the protection of women. Section 498A in the Indian Penal Code is one such provision of law which has been misused a lot. This affects and abuses innocent men in the process. In many cases, men have committed suicide when their wives have harassed them threatening that they will approach police or court and send them to jail for no reason. Section 498A was inserted in the year 1983 in the Indian Penal Code of 1860 to curb the issue of dowry deaths. Its aim is to punish cruelty at the hands of the husband or his relatives against the wife, particularly when such cruelty has the potential to result in suicide or murder of a woman. Though this law was made for noble intentions but instead of saving lives, it has taken away many lives. Many social activists have seen a gender bias in this section and have been campaigning seeking an amendment to protect husbands and their relatives from being unduly harassed by wives. Although this provision was enacted to protect and safeguard the interests of married women but many of them have a tendency to misuse this provision by filing false cases against their innocent husband and families including parents of advanced age, minor children, siblings, grandparents, etc. and as a result causing harassment to them and even arrest without any verifiable evidence of any kind of physical or mental injury. Out of 100 cases of domestic violence in India, 40 cases involve violence against men. Many men do not report such cases mainly due to the social system and values attached to men which stop them from sharing and reporting domestic violence and abuse. Even when men report any kind of domestic abuse or violence, people do not believe in them. When men try to narrate their problems, struggle, torture and harassment within marriage and family, no one listens to them and instead they are mocked at. Many men are ashamed of revealing and sharing that they are beaten up by their wives.
The Supreme Court’s decision in 2014 ruling out the automatic arrests in section 498A cases is in the right direction taken by the judiciary. It has directed that the family welfare committees be constituted by the District Legal Services Authority. These committees have to look into all the cases filed under Section 498A and submit a report within one month. The court also said that these rules will not apply to offences involving physical injuries or death. More such steps need to be taken to end the increasing number of false cases against men in this regard and condemn it.
Due to the bashing of men and stereotypes prevalent in the society, men are facing a lot of issues which are less talked or discussed about. One such issue is relating to Mental Health. Many men have been increasingly committing suicides in the country due to ideas of masculinity that lead them to bottle up their emotions and not share their suffering with anyone. It is also based on the stereotype that ‘Men or Boys don’t Cry’. Such statements lead to men not opening up and thus taking such drastic steps in their life. Men actually face more intense societal pressures as they are expected to be financially secured, successful and strong (emotionally, physically and mentally) due to the norms present in the society. So, the mindset the people has to change in this regard. Another issue is that men are also sexually abused and not just the other way round. Many boys in their schooling days have faced sexual violence but rarely do they speak up. Rape of men is rarely discussed or is considered as a joke. Recently there has been an uproar in the country due to the #metoo movement. It is a cry against sexual harassment where multiple women have strongly come up and shared their pain and trauma to all the people. These victims need to be supported and actions need to be taken against the accused person. But certain cases have also come up where women have falsely accused men of harassment in pretext of getting financial gains. So such complaints have to be carefully scrutinized before accusing a person and labeling them as ‘bad’ since it affects their reputation in the society, their professional life and their relation with their friends and family.
All these issues have to be looked upon and discussed. For this first the mindset of the people in the society has to change. People should be open to accepting that men do cry, they are free to choose their passion and life-partner. Many men’s rights movements have started in the country to prevent the discrimination against men. Awareness has to be spread in the country and men should be able to talk about their mental health issues. There should come a time in the country where we talk only about Human Rights and not Women Rights or Men Rights.