Save Indian Family Foundation
Press Release – 3 April 2008
Protest against abuse of women and elders through misuse of IPC Section 498A
Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF) is a voluntary self-help group formed in response to the large number of arrests of innocent citizens and the alarming rise in the number of broken marriages, fatherless children and abused elders, owing to the rampant misuse of Indian Penal Code (IPC) Section 498A. SIFF is composed of men and women of all ages, who share the twin objectives of promoting family harmony and fighting legal terrorism (carried out through misuse of women-protection laws).
Indian “women-protection laws”, which are in essence wife-protection laws, assume that wives are always honest victims and therefore require no proof of their claims before initiating action against the accused. The draconian law, IPC Section 498A, in particular, allows arrest of the husband and his relatives solely on the basis of the complaint of a wife, without any proof or investigation. Further, the accused are assumed to be guilty until proven innocent.
Added to these blind assumptions, lack of punishment or penalty for misuse of the law has made IPC Section 498A a dangerous weapon in the hands of unscrupulous wives to harass husbands along with elders and women in the matrimonial home.
Every year 30,000 innocent women are arrested (i.e. one innocent woman every 20 minutes) under IPC Section 498A. Everyday, minor girls, pregnant women, married and unmarried sisters, ailing mothers and even aged grandmothers are being sent behind bars and prosecuted based on mere allegations. Unmarried women have ended their lives unable to bear the humiliation of being arrested and rejected by prospective alliances. Lives of married women are adversely affected as well due to the unbearable stress caused by false prosecution for 7-10 years.
Every year, close to 4,000 innocent senior citizens are arrested (i.e. one innocent elderly person every 2.5 hours) under IPC Section 498A. Many retired elders have been ill-treated, thrown out of their own homes and deprived of their meagre means of sustenance by greedy or vengeful daughters-in-law. Senior citizens are further harassed through false cases of domestic abuse and dowry harassment and denied mental peace during the last leg of their lives. Aged parents have to helplessly watch their sons lose their youth, their health, their jobs, all their earnings, and sometimes even their lives, as they are mercilessly tortured by their estranged wives, aided by advocates, the Police and the Judiciary. More and more elderly parents are unable to depend on their sons for the fear of false dowry harassment cases by resentful daughters-in-law. It is not surprising that the World Health Organization, in its report on India cited IPC Section 498A as one of the major reasons for the “Increasing Abuse of the Elderly in India”.
Children are not being spared from the suffering either. Irrespective of the reasons for marital discord, wives are filing criminal cases of domestic abuse and dowry harassment to deny children access to their fathers, causing great pain to the fathers and children. Children are also being arrested under false charges of dowry harassment, and imprisoned along with older family members. In other cases, children are being torn apart from their parents who are hauled away by the police in front of their eyes, causing indelible scars and fears in their young minds.
Falsely accused men have to fight the highly corrupt state machinery on behalf of the women, children and the elderly in their families, at their own personal expense, all the while carrying the presumption of guilt on their heads. Many young men lose their employment either because they are forced to appear in court frequently, or they must often travel to a different city or state to fight their cases, or because they are unable to focus on their professions while fighting the cases.
Where would these men gather the strength and the resources needed to fight the corruption and public prosecution effectively? If the accused men are already indigent and cannot afford the best defense money can buy, their fate is sealed. Many men who are threatened or accused under false cases end their lives like Abdul Rahim of Karimnagar, Rajesh Hasmukh Desai of Ahmedabad or Pushkar Singh of Lucknow. In some cases, they end up taking the lives of their spouses before ending their own lives as was seen in the more recent case of Amit Budhiraj.
It is clear that the so-called “women-protection laws” are only creating havoc in the society and destroying the family, which has, for ages, been the greatest support system for women, children and the elderly in India.
In western countries like USA, the Government provides financial assistance (social security) to those who cannot maintain themselves. Nevertheless, social research in countries like USA shows that children raised in broken homes tend to grow up into disturbed and violent individuals. Single mothers and the elderly in these countries may receive financial assistance to make ends meet, but never enough to buy the warmth and care that comes from being part of a family. Due to similar anti-family laws, western men have even developed an aversion towards marriage and the levels of stress are extremely high among men, women and children, compared to those in family-oriented cultures.
Should we allow criminal laws like IPC Section 498A destroy the only source of social security we have in India, which is the family? Should we hope that our Government will invent a better system than family to take care of the countless single mothers, fatherless children and helpless senior citizens it is creating, and if so, at what additional cost to the society? How many more innocent lives should we sacrifice before our Government and law enforcement system take steps to end legal terrorism and promote family-friendly laws?
In order to publicly raise these questions, SIFF is organizing a Protest against abuse of women and elders through misuse of IPC Section 498A on Sunday, 6 April, 2008 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. near Indira Park. We will also take out a Peace March along Tank Bund as part of the event. We are expecting 100-200 members from different places in Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu and Karnataka, including women, children and senior citizens, to attend the protest.
During our protest we will highlight the causes, magnitude and consequences of misuse of IPC Section 498A and urge the Government, Laweyrs, Judiciary and Police to end legal terrorism. We will submit a memorandum to the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh with our specific demands, briefly listed below, to ensure that the innocent are protected and justice is delivered to the genuinely aggrieved:
Ban Police involvement in marital counseling.
Pass directives to resolve all marital disputes under civil law.
Confer equal protection upon men and women against verbal, emotional, economic, physical and sexual abuse at home and in the work place.
Make civil and criminal laws applicable to men and women equally. Specifically, provisions of IPC 498A, Domestic Violence Act, adultery laws, laws against rape and sexual harassment and family laws (divorce, maintenance and child custody) should be made gender-neutral.
End the “legal terrorism” perpetrated through the misuse of anti-male, anti-family laws. Specifically, Section 498A of IPC should be made bailable. It should also be made non-cognizable to prevent arrests of innocent citizens based on mere complaints unsubstantiated by evidence or investigation.
Strictly enforce the standing orders issued in the memo by the Commissioner of Police, Hyderabad, in 2002, and allow NO arrest under IPC Section 498A and related “women-protection laws” without written permission of the Deputy Commissioner of Police,
Make provisions to punish those who abuse the judicial process irrespective of gender. Specifically, heavy penalties should be imposed on people misusing IPC 498A and Domestic Violence Act as weapons for settling personal scores in marital disputes..
Establish a Ministry for Men’s Welfare to cater to the needs and welfare of our fathers, brothers, husbands and sons.
We urge representatives of the print and electronic media to lend their support to our cause by attending our Protest against abuse of women and elders through misuse of IPC Section 498A on Sunday, 6 April, 2008 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. near Indira Park and highlighting the truth about the legal terrorism perpetrated in the name of women-protection laws like IPC Section 498A.
Save Indian Family Foundation
Contact: 9704683163 (Challa Uma)
Helplines for victims of legal terrorism:
Delhi: 9810611534, 9911119113
Mumbai: 9224335577, 9869323538
Kolkata: 9830151555, 9830927619
Chennai: 9884607376, 9941012958
Hyd’bad: 09848280354, 9989146466
B’lore: 9845143724, 9342853272
More helplines at: http://mynation.net/contact-us