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