Archive for December, 2006

Watch out for the insanity of radical feminists!

It is becoming clearer everyday that radical feminists are not going to rest until every bit of sanity is removed from Indian law, and every sign of peace in an average Indian family is destroyed. Not two days after pushing for unequal adultery laws, National Commission for Women (NCW) is pushing for alimony for female live-in partners. The NCW recommends that “A woman in a live-in relationship should be allowed to seek maintenance if she is deserted or shunned by her partner…Citing instances where women living in relationships “in the nature of marriage’’ were left with little or no sustenance after being deserted”

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1061227/asp/frontpage/story_7188737.asp

Live-in relationship is a very recent phenomenon, restricted to urban cities in India, and is probably unheard of, or is unacceptable in most parts of India. The reason why people opt for live-in relationships is either because they do not want the formation or breakup of their relationships to be governed by laws or simply because they perceive it as a way to defy the traditional concept of marriage (there could be other reasons that I may not be aware of). Whatever the reason may be, it would not be unreasonable to say that almost all women (and men) in live-in relationships are from urban backgrounds, hold some kind of educational degrees, and are either employed, or capable of acquiring employment. So, how is legally granted alimony to a female live-in partner justified?

Secondly, live-in relationships were meant to make breakups easier and least painful for both partners. The NCW uses the words “deserted or shunned” rather than “breakup” to describe the termination of a live-in relationship by a male partner. It appears that according to the new “rules” of NCW, a breakup must be something that happens when a “hapless woman” is “compelled” to leave an “untenable or unbearable” relationship, whereas a man leaving a relationship would be considered as a “cruel and heartless” act called “desertion”. Either way, since a man is assumed to be guilty until proven innocent by Indian law, a woman can always claim to be the one who was “deserted”, and demand alimony. Why not? It is a “lawful” way of making money even if you may call it unethical.

Next, the NCW will not spell out what the duration of a live-in relationship should be to qualify for alimony/maintenance. Apparently, “this aspect should be left to the courts to decide”. Now, how wonderful is that! So, the courts will set some standard duration of time as sufficient to claim alimony, and let us hope that this standard will be uniform across the country. The million dollar question is, how can a man and a woman “prove” how long they have been in a live-in relationship unless there is some record of their cohabitation? Does this mean live-in partners should now start maintaining records to prove the beginning and end of their relationship anticipating legal issues? Does this not defeat the main purpose of a live-in relationship, which is to keep law out of it?

The pushing of more and more new anti-male laws in India reflects the extremely sinister designs of radical feminists. The multi-pronged approach of radical feminists can be outlined as follows:

1) They brainwash women to believe that marriage is an undesirable bondage, and encourage women to shun marriage and childbirth.
2) They introduce laws that make it easy for a woman to thoughtlessly break her marriage on the slightest pretext.
3) They encourage the woman to use the same laws to threaten and blackmail a man to stay in a marriage that he does not wish to continue.
4) They recommend making adultery by a man punishable by law, so that he has no chance of seeking pleasure outside of an unhappy or unsatisfactory marriage, while ensuring that the woman is free to commit adultery under the title of a “hapless victim”.
5) They make sure every act of a man can be legally classified as abuse just based on a woman’s perception of abuse.
6) They impose unreasonable financial penalties on a man for anything that goes wrong with his marriage. They also provide for legal ways to emotionally torture a man by allowing the prosecution of his dear ones.
7) They push to bring live-in relationships under the purview of law, sealing out the possibility of a man seeking happiness by avoiding the legal hassles of marriage.

While systematically stripping men of their basic human rights, radical feminists use the downtrodden woman from rural India, who is completely unaware of Indian laws or would never dream of using them, as a mascot for their campaign for women’s rights in a “male dominated” India.

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Gender equality according to radical feminists

Dowry prohibition:

1) A woman and her family cannot be prosecuted for giving dowry/gifts.
2) Punishment should be given to a man and his family for accepting dowry/gifts.

498a:

1) A woman’s word is deemed to be the truth by default and a single line of complaint accusing the husband, in-laws and anyone else, is enough to arrest the accused without investigation, under a non-bailable offence.
2) A man and his relatives are presumed guilty until proven innocent and they should undergo long-drawn trials just to prove that they did not commit any offence.
3) There is no penalty for a woman filing a false complaint thereby harassing innocent people, defrauding the police and judiciary and extorting money from the husband and in-laws.

Domestic violence:

1) Any action of a man that is PERCEIVED by a woman to be hurting her physically, emotionally or financially will considered Domestic Violence and the woman deserves protection under law. A woman (wife or girlfriend, current or former) can also claim the man’s hard earned wealth and property even though she may not have any right, title or beneficial interest in the same.
2) Any amount of harassment and abuse by a woman committed against a man is not perceived Domestic Violence and the man does not deserve protection under law because women are the “weaker sex” and could not possibly hurt a man enough to cause physical, emotional or financial damage.

The explanation for why innocent men and their families should endure “legal terrorism” today:

1) Because it is not a bad idea (Renuka Chaudhary).
2) Because women have historically been oppressed (All radical feminists and their ignorant followers) and it is now men’s turn to suffer (Renuka Chaudhary).
3) Because our (false) statistics show that 70% married Indian women are suffering from Domestic Violence and our (fabricated) statisitcs also say that thousands of women are being burnt to death in India everyday (All radical feminists and their ignorant followers).

Finally…
“The feminists in India today say that the Indian law relating to adultery is premised on the outdated notion of “marriage”. The law, according to them, is not only based on the husband’s right to fidelity of his “wife” but also treats “wife” merely as a chattel of her husband. Such a gender-discriminatory and proprietary-oriented law of “adultery”, they argue, is contrary to the spirit of the equality of status guaranteed under the Constitution of India.”

So, how do they correct the inequality?

1) National Commission for Women (NCW) has shot down proposals for amending Section 497. Therefore, women cannot be prosecuted for adultery. They are still “hapless victims”.

2) NCW is proposing the modification of Section 198(2) so that the wife of a man who commited adultry can now file a complaint against her husband and get him punished for adultry.

This is called “gender equality”.

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False Statistics and Claims on Domestic Violence

To,The EditorThe Daily Standard

Dear Sir,

I am writing in response to the article Dowry Disgrace India’s “kitchen accident” epidemic by Abigail Lavin published in The Daily Standard.

This article is a disgrace to journalism because it does not show any signs of proper investigation of facts. Instead it appears to recycle ideas from biased articles strewn with concocted numbers to generate paranoia among the readers regarding conditions of women in (what the western world likes to call) “developing” countries like India. India has developed economically and has simultaneously undergone several social and cultural changes, which the western media conveniently ignores, and revels in portraying India as a land of snake charmers and bride burners.

Indian Penal Code section 498a was originally introduced in 1983 to protect married women from being harassed or subjected to cruelty by husbands and/or their relatives. This law was mainly aimed at curbing dowry harassment. If harassed women indeed used the law then we should have seen a decrease in the number of cases of harassment over time. Considering the stringent consequences imposed by the law and the inordinate delays and corruption inherent in the Indian police and legal system, no ordinary citizen, male or female, would be impudent enough to risk being implicated under this law for the sake of satisfying their monetary or even sadistic desires for that matter.

The fact is that many women who are actually beaten up and harassed by their husbands and in-laws rarely file 498a or resort to other dowry related laws. A lot of them live in rural areas, unaware of the law or lack the necessary economic and moral support from their natal families. This law has been mainly misused to harass men and their families rather than to protect genuine female victims of harassment. The Supreme Court of India itself has labeled the misuse of section 498a as “legal terrorism” and stated that “many instances have come to light where the complaints are not bona fide and have been filed with an oblique motive. In such cases, acquittal of the accused does not wipe out the ignominy suffered during and prior to the trial. Sometimes adverse media coverage adds to the misery. “ In agreement with the above statement, the findings of a study conducted by The Center for Social Research indicated that 98 percent of the cases filed under IPC section 498a are false.

The number of cases that are filed/recorded in police stations or courts are the basis for the official statistics of dowry harassment. Given that the law allows women unlimited scope to fabricate lies (with no penalty of perjury) and given that women are encouraged to keep filing false cases the statistics of “dowry harassment” are bound to rise while the problem of genuine harassment is left unchecked. Talking about dowry deaths, you would be appalled to know that any death (including suicide or that resulting from poor health, accident etc.) of a wife is first construed as dowry death in India and the husband is immediately arrested without investigation unless he has the money to bribe or the political contacts to keep the police from harassing him. No wife is arrested if her husband dies unless there is glaring evidence that she indeed killed her husband. Once again, these are the “statistics” that most media is used to citing without critically evaluating the reality of the situation. The author says that “According to India’s National Crime Record Bureau, one dowry death is reported every 77 minutes”. I would like to underline the word reported. No agency has made an attempt to follow the outcomes of court trials to see how many of the people are acquitted.

Here are some statistics for the year 2004 alone reported by CNN-IBN regarding cases registered under IPC 498a (http://www.ibnlive.com/videos/27446/tortured-hubbies-victims-of-498a.html):

*In 2004, 58,319 dowry cases were registered

*1,34,757 men were arrested

*47,828 cases have reached the chargesheet stage

*10,491dowry cases were not chargesheeted as they were based on frivolous grounds.

* 5,739 men have been convicted but more than four times that number have been acquitted (24,127) 

There are several thousands of cases rotting in the courts without trial or due to prolonged trials causing enormous damage to the economic, emotional and physical health of innocent citizens. Through IPC section 498a, the Indian Government is actually protecting those women that indulge in perjury, blackmail, extortion and harassment of their husbands and in-laws.

Despite documented evidence that section 498a of IPC has been heavily misused affecting more and more men and women everyday, no amendments to this law have been proposed so far. Instead another new law, the Domestic Violence Act, has been recently introduced. The DV Act claims that it will protect women from Domestic Violence which includes physical, verbal, emotional, sexual and economical abuse. According to the law an aggrieved person is defined as “any woman who is, or has been, in a domestic relationship with the respondent…” and a respondent is defined as “an adult male person who is, or has been, in a domestic relationship with the aggrieved person…”. Thus, the law only recognizes domestic violence committed by a man on a woman in a household shared in the past or present. While this law is heavily biased against men, there are many gross inconsistencies in the law that prove that the DV Act is not good for women either. The DV Act will allow legally wedded women, divorced women and girlfriends (former or present) to subject a man and his relatives (male and female) to domestic violence and legal harassment.  As with section 498a of IPC, the DV Act is replete with loopholes and is bound to be misused.

The author refers to “analysts” and “critics” to qualify misinformation in the article. I am assuming that these “analysts” and “critics” are people who themselves who do not have adequate knowledge nor balanced views on social problems. It is important to acknowledge the fact that IPC 498a and DV Act are bad laws that criminalize ordinary citizens (male and female) and violate their fundamental rights. Unless urgent amendments are made to prevent the misuse of these laws, credibility of women will be lost. In addition to lost credibility, an overload of false cases will worsen the delays in the judicial process and deny timely justice to women who are genuinely aggrieved.

Unreasonable and easily misused laws like IPC 498a and DV Act are already creating a situation of fear and mutual distrust and adversely affecting interpersonal relationships between men and women India. This is resulting in more and more broken families and depriving children of a healthy childhood. There are thousands of Indian citizens who have been dragged into false cases both in India and abroad. Together, they are trying to spread awareness about the reality of the situation. It would behoove The Daily Standard to refrain from publishing biased articles that spread misinformation and mask the injustice being done to the innocent and the genuinely aggrieved.

Thank you,

Uma Challa

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Women’s organizations spreading paranoia

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to an article, “Stove-burst deaths unusually high, Gujarat cops say hands tied” by Sreenivas Janyala, published in your newspaper on December 18, 2006 (http://indianexpress.com/story/18850.html). This article is nonsensical and poorly researched. Domestic violence is a very serious issue and requires great attention. When one assumes that domestic violence must have occurred it does more harm than good because it hurts innocent people.

The statement that “Women victims give declarations absolving in-laws, husbands, prevent investigation for suicide or murder” is meaningless. Why would a woman’s dying declaration “prevent” investigation? If a woman says that her family is not responsible for her death, that is what she means. In cases where there is no dying declaration, there should be a burst stove which can be examined to investigate the cause of the accident.

The article shows pictures of three women as “three recent victims of stove bursts”. The caption also says, “Over 300 have died this year alone”. These three women have suffered stove bursts and they are alive. The author of the article is talking about “dead women”. Are these three women examples of accidents? Or have these women testified that their respective husbands and in-laws were responsible for the stove bursts? What prevents investigation in their cases? Why has nothing been said in the article about these three cases?

Next, the author makes another nonsensical assertion: “…most victims are young and recently married, and invariably the police treat the cases as accidents, based on dying declarations.” There is a difference between police “treating these cases as accidents” and dying declarations “preventing investigation”. Why would police treat a case as anything other than an accident if the injured person said it was an accident she caused? It is absurd for radical women’s organizations to insist that all stove bursts should be assumed suspicious.

Take a look at numbers of stove bursts cited in the article: “in 2005, 343 women across the state died in kerosene stove explosions; this year there have been 330 deaths so far.“ Gujarat has 2,10,41,937 females over the age of 7. There is approximately one stove burst per 1,00,000 females. We can expect that young women, who may not have much experience using wick or kerosene stoves, will make more serious mistakes. Again, radical women’s advocates have not demonstrated cause for assuming that every stove burst related death of a woman is an act of domestic violence.

The author concedes that there is a preponderance of “wick stoves” which are more likely to explode and adds that, “unusually, by police figures, in 62 per cent of the cases, the stoves that burst are of ISI-approved brands.” An ISI rating cannot prevent careless misuse of stoves. Nor can a BIS automobile approval prevent vehicle accidents. Certainly, an stove accident rate of 1 per 1,00,000 women in Gujarat does not suggest a level of domestic violence worthy of the wild claims made by this article parroting the statements of radical activists.

The author states that “Burns specialists and forensic experts — and sometimes police officers — say they know most of these cases are suicides, often in the face of harassment by husbands or in-laws, or plain murders.” Unless burn specialists or forensic experts are able to interview corpses, it is impossible for them to find that a burn was a suicide caused by harassment, or a murder. Police are in a better position to ascertain facts at the scene of the event and record them for appropriate handling. The public focus should be on making sure that the police handle suicide investigations properly. Assuming innocent husbands and in-laws to be criminals or falsely incriminating them under stringent anti-dowry laws is senseless, and is destroying families, and placing men, women, and children in desperate situations that lead to substantially higher rates of suicide.

Gender-obsessed activists are unable to see that stove bursts happen to males and females of all ages. Here are a few news items for example:

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2005/20050705/j&k.htm#5 – Father, son killed as stove bursts

http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/life/2006/09/08/stories/2006090800110200.htm – A fire accident that badly disfigured a child’s face also helped bring into the world a skilled plastic surgeon.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2002/20021130/ldh1.htm – Teenagers, woman die in stove bursts

http://www.hindu.com/2006/06/09/stories/2006060915260400.htm – Couple die of burns in stove burst

http://www.hindu.com/2004/02/19/stories/2004021913430300.htm – Four sustain burns in stove burst

http://newstodaynet.com/25apr/ld5.htm – Succumbs to burn injuries (A woman dies, husband and child suffer injuries)

http://72.14.209.104/search?q=cache:E_8xt2MYw3wJ:www.newstodaynet.com/250505.htm+stove+burst&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=16 – Stove-burst kills woman

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1040518/asp/calcutta/story_3260616.asp – Stove burst death (woman in her mid-thirties dies)

http://www.deccanherald.com/deccanherald/nov14/c2.asp – Stove burst kills teenager

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1050331/asp/calcutta/story_4554978.asp – Stove burst (14 yr old girl dies)

Mr. Janyala quotes anonymous police officers saying, “But investigations are stone-walled by the dying declarations which, police officers say, could have come under pressure or coercion, or from the woman’s unstated fears for her children’s future and of bringing her family a bad name.” As stated earlier, it is preposterous to assume that dying declarations could have come under pressure or coercion, thus making a serious issue such as domestic violence into a mere guessing game.

In addition, it has to be noted that, in India, the word of a woman who is alive and dandy is taken for granted even if she is blatantly lying and criminal cases are registered against innocent husbands and in-laws. Why is it that a dying woman’s declaration that her husband and in-laws are innocent not taken to be the truth? Is it that, in India, only a woman’s statements against her own husband and in-laws will be considered to be the truth? It is absurd that the author is suggesting that a husband and his family are to be assumed guilty even when all the evidence suggests otherwise. Is it that an Indian husband and his relatives are punishable by law by default, and women, police and judiciary have to diligently work towards that goal?

Mr. Janyala also quotes H.G. Patel, a former superintendent of police, who investigated about two dozen cases. He does not say when Patel investigated these two dozen cases. Did he investigate them 20 years ago? Or did he investigate two dozen cases in his entire career? Are the two dozen cases of Patel representative of the 300 plus stove burst related female deaths per year in the state of Gujarat?

Here’s another ridiculous assertion, by Dr. Raibagkar, the head of a burns ward: “Even if the patient doesn’t tell us, we know from the depth and degree of burns, patterns, areas burnt, whether it is accidental or suicidal.” How can one look at burns and be sure to say if they were “accidental or suicidal”, especially if they are all over the body and the victim is dead? Serious burns all over the body or the depth of burns depends on the intensity of flames, what the person was wearing (the garment and the material it is made of), what kind of things the person was surrounded by and/or what the person did as a reaction to the fire. Yes, the police should investigate cases but they do not. Instead, they presume all men and their families to be guilty (maybe because that is much easier than doing their job of investigation), and arrest innocent individuals. These arrests and all the cases of female burn victims are conveniently used as cases of bride burning by radical feminists in India and abroad, to beef up statistics of harassment and domestic violence against women, and, to argue for the existence of horrendous laws that victimize thousands of innocent men and their relatives.

Finally, the author gives an example of Raman Solanki, whose daughter-in-law died of burns but made a declaration that her husband and in-laws were not responsible for her suicide. The woman is said to have stated that her husband “was having an extra-marital affair and was harassing her”. Nothing is mentioned about how he was harassing her and what he was harassing her for. Nothing is said about what section of IPC the husband was booked under. It also appears as though in-laws can be booked under Indian criminal law just for knowing about their son’s affair. In fact, considering the rate at which false dowry cases are increasing, it is evident that in-laws are deemed criminals just for having given birth to a male child or just for sharing a womb.

I am not sure what the purpose of this article is other than to raise some sensation in the mind of a reader who has limited ability to discern. It makes me wonder about the kind of training your journalists are getting and what kind of social responsibility the Indian newspapers fulfill in terms of doing some honest and intelligent reporting. I expect that the editors of Indian Express are a little more watchful of what kind of articles are being published and that they maintain the dignity of the profession of journalism.

Thank you,
Uma Challa

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Why DV Act is scary

Dear Ms. Chandrima,

 

In your article “What are men scared of?” in The Telegraph (link: http://www.telegraphindia.com/1061030/asp/calcutta/story_6933770.asp) you said, “But I was just wondering what made the men feel so threatened. There doesn’t seem to be much reason.”

 

People who do not understand why men feel threatened by the Domestic Violence Act will probably not even be able to imagine why women would feel threatened by this Act. Anyone who has been awake the last two decades knows how section 498A of IPC has been heavily misused, dragging innocent men and women into police stations, lock-ups and courts, thus depriving many young children of a happy childhood, many youth of productive careers and many senior citizens of mental peace in the last leg of their lives. Whoever said that India “loves to pass acts that will never be implemented”, must take a look at how IPC section 498A has been not only very poorly formulated but how badly it has been implemented.

 

As if this 498A fiasco is not enough jingoistic feminists have come up with another Act, along the same lines of 498A only with larger loopholes waiting to be used against many more Indian citizens. As, you, Ms. Chandrima point out, many women who really need protection from Domestic Violence will probably never know about it and even if they do, never use it. This law will be yet another weapon in the hands of unscrupulous women who will misuse it at the slightest opportunity. If men were living on an Island and have nothing to do with the rest of their family and the law is doing some sort of negative selection against genuinely abusive men, then there would be no problem. However, in a society where men and women live together what affects one affects the other. When a man is thrown out of his own house under true or false allegations of domestic violence or cruelty everyone who is dependent on him is bound to suffer. That will include dependent parents and siblings who can be male or female. It is unfair enough to penalize an entire family even if an accused man is truly abusive. Unfair is a subtle word to describe a situation in which an innocent man, along with his family, is tortured by misuse of law. Injustice is a subtle word to describe how women, who commit perjury and harass families for years on end go unpunished.

 

Many men suffer in silence in India unable to meet the unending financial and emotional needs of their wives. Some of them even face physical violence. This section of the Indian population is completely missed by the radar either intentionally or because men are too embarrassed to admit their misery lest they be labeled as sissies who cannot fix problems in their homes. On the other hand many a men of this category are facing threats or fighting false cases filed against them by their wives.

 

Domestic violence is committed by men and women and it is not always directed against the opposite sex. This is even more true considering the wide range of areas covered by the Domestic Violence Act. Where do husbands harassed by wives seek retribution? Where do women harassed by other their daughters-in-law seek protection? In fact every family that has so far been falsely accused and tormented in the name of Section 498A has been subjected to Domestic Violence as defined by the law. The only catch is that not everyone is covered by the law. On the other hand, victims of Domestic Violence are more vulnerable and at risk of being legally harassed by thoughtless women. That, Ms. Chandrima, is what all of us men and women are scared about.

— Uma Challa

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Gender biased laws in India engender injustice

IPC section 498a was originally designed to protect married women from being harassed or subjected to cruelty by husbands and/or their relatives. This law was mainly aimed at curbing dowry harassment. Unfortunately, this law has been misused to harass men and their families rather than protect genuine female victims of harassment. The Supreme Court of India itself has labeled the misuse of section 498a as “legal terrorism” and stated that “many instances have come to light where the complaints are not bona fide and have been filed with an oblique motive. In such cases, acquittal of the accused does not wipe out the ignominy suffered during and prior to the trial. Sometimes adverse media coverage adds to the misery. “ In agreement with the above statement, the findings of a study conducted by The Center for Social Research indicated that 98 percent of the cases filed under IPC section 498a are false. Nevertheless, the law has been always justified based on its intention of protecting women. At this point it would be worthwhile to think about how IPC section 498a has really affected women.

It has been argued by Government officials favoring the law that despite the establishment of legal measures to counter harassment of married women, there is an increase in the number of cases of harassment. The first part of the statement suggests that women who are harassed should be utilizing this law as a means of protection. If harassed women indeed used the law then we should see a decrease in the number of cases of harassment over time. Considering the stringent consequences imposed by the law and the inordinate delays inherent in the legal system, no ordinary citizen, male or female, would be impudent enough to risk being implicated under this law for the sake of satisfying their monetary or even sadistic desires for that matter.

The fact is that many women who are actually beaten up and harassed by their husbands and in-laws rarely file 498a or resort to other dowry related laws. A lot of them live in rural areas, unaware of the law or lack the necessary economic and moral support from their natal families. Going by the conviction rate the proportion of women who have genuine cases is 2%. Most women who file 498a are from urban backgrounds and are either capable of fending for themselves or have enough family support to fall back on. The proportion of women who belong to this category is 98%. In the 98% of false cases, in every instance that one daughter-in-law files a false complaint at least two women (an innocent mother-in-law and sister-in-law) are arrested and undergo stress, humiliation and harassment in the hands of the exploitative police, lawyers, staff and officials in Indian courts before being acquitted several years later. So, in every 100 cases 2 women genuinely benefit, 98 women get away with perjury and extortion, and at least 196 women suffer needlessly.

The number of cases that are filed in police stations or courts are the basis for the official statistics of dowry harassment. So, given that the law allows women unlimited scope to fabricate lies (with no penalty of perjury) and given that women are encouraged to keep filing false cases the statistics of “dowry harassment” are bound to rise while the problem of genuine harassment is left unchecked. So, the government has, in the name of protection of women, done grave injustice to two groups of women. The first group constitutes the genuine victims of dowry harassment whose misery remains unmitigated but is constantly alluded to in order to justify the law. The second group consists of innocent mothers and sisters of husbands who are criminalized and harassed by the police and the legal system without any regard to their age, health or marital status. Pregnant women, unmarried sisters, ailing mothers and even aged grandmothers have been sent behind the bars under false allegations but their pain and suffering has not even been acknowledged leave alone addressed by the Government. Through IPC section 498a, the Government is actually protecting those women that indulge in perjury, blackmail, extortion and harassment of their husbands and in-laws.

The recently passed Domestic Violence Bill claims that it will protect women from Domestic Violence which includes physical, verbal, emotional, sexual and economical abuse. According to the law an aggrieved person is defined as “any woman who is, or has been, in a domestic relationship with the respondent…” and a respondent is defined as “an adult male person who is, or has been, in a domestic relationship with the aggrieved person…”. Thus, the law only recognizes domestic violence committed by a man on a woman in a household shared in the past or present. While this law is heavily biased against men, many supporters of the law are claiming that this law is good for women. The following are some gross inconsistencies in the law that prove that the DV Act is not good for women either.

There are several instances where a daughter-in-law and/or her blood relatives commit Domestic Violence (as defined by the law) against her mother-in-law, sister-in-law or any other females related by marriage. In addition, mothers or step-mothers abuse their children (who include daughters or step-daughters) physically, verbally, emotionally and economically and vice versa. In such a situation, the law does not provide any protection to female victims of Domestic Violence. Thus, the law can only be used by a wife or a girlfriend (present or former) and their relatives/friends against a man and his family.

According to Clause 17 of the Act legally divorced women and former separated girlfriends/live-in partners can claim right to residence in the home of their former husband or former partner even though the Act says they may not have any right, title or beneficial interest in the same. The law can thus force a former wife or former girlfriend on a man’s household and violate the rights of his present wife or partner. The law does not provide protection to a man’s current wife or girlfriend/live-in partner or even dependent mothers and sisters under such circumstances. Here, the law favors divorced women and former girlfriends at the cost of the rights of a legally wedded wife/live-in partner and other female relatives that share a household with a man.

According to Clause 19 a man can be removed from his own household and him and his relatives can be restrained from entering any portion of the household in which the aggrieved person resides. Through this clause the law supports the encroachment of property by a girlfriend (former or present) at the expense of the right to residence of a man, his legally wedded wife and any other dependent female members of a family. In the name of protecting a section of women who may be making true or false allegations, the law penalizes innocent women who are related to an accused man.

Despite documented evidence that section 498a of IPC has been heavily misused affecting more and more women (along with men) everyday, no amendments to this law have been proposed so far. As with section 498a of IPC, the Domestic Violence Act is replete with loopholes and is bound to be misused. The DV Act will allow legally wedded women, divorced women and girlfriends (former or present) to subject a man and his relatives (male and female) to domestic violence and legal harassment.  This Act, like Section 498a of IPC will result in the harassment of many more innocent women than it claims it will protect. It is important for the Government to acknowledge the fact that IPC 498a and DV Act are bad laws that criminalize ordinary citizens (male and female) and violate their fundamental rights. Unless urgent amendments are made to prevent the misuse of these laws, credibility of women will be lost. In addition to lost credibility, an overload of false cases will worsen the delays in the judicial process and deny timely justice to women who are genuinely aggrieved.

Unreasonable and easily misused laws like IPC 498a and DV Act are already creating a situation of fear and mutual distrust and adversely affecting interpersonal relationships between men and women in the society. This is resulting in more and more broken families and depriving children of a healthy childhood. If the Government and women’s organizations were truly interested in improving the living conditions of women in India they would focus on empowering women through education. Education builds self-confidence and gives a person the ability to stand up for oneself. Educating women can also ensure that the next generation of children are raised to treat each other with respect and be better citizens. The Government and women’s organizations can also lend support for rehabilitation of abused women and protect them from further harassment without doing injustice to innocent men. It would behoove the Government and women’s organizations to work in collaboration with social scientists and psychologists to understand human behavior in the context of changing social conditions and standards in India and think about workable solutions to deal with Domestic Violence and other forms of abuse instead of criminalizing ordinary citizens. Positive measures that can bring about domestic harmony are the only way to ensure family stability and long-term social stability.  

—Uma Challa

 

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