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International Men’s Day – 19 November, 2008
Bharat is a hard-working young man who jumped through hoops to make a successful career as a scientist. He was raised to believe that a good man puts women and children first, protects and provides for his family, respects women, and endures pain and sacrifice without heaving a sigh. Unfortunately, he never realized that a good man is also more often at the receiving end of abuse, until he himself became a victim of spousal violence and witnessed societal apathy towards men like him. To add to his woes, he also became victim of IPC Section 498A, a law which gave undue credibility to his wife, and treated him as guilty until proven innocent. He was arrested and imprisoned for a crime he did not commit, he had to witness his parents and siblings being jailed for no fault of theirs, he lost his job, he suffered enormous pain due to separation from his child, and with no ray of hope in sight, he ended his life at a tender age of 28. News of his death in local dailies read “a scientist ends his life due to financial problems”.
This is the story of just one of the thousands of men in India, whose thankless lives wither away every year just when they are ready to blossom. Statistics from the National Crime Records Bureau show that in the years 2005 and 2006 alone, nearly twice as many married men (52,483 in year 2005 and 55,452 in year 2006), compared to married women (28,186 in year 2005 and 29,869 in year 2006), committed suicide unable to withstand verbal, emotional, economic and physical abuse and legal harassment.
Save Family Foundation (SFF) and its sibling organizations adopted 19 November as International Men’s Day to recognize and honor men; our fathers, brothers, partners, sons, male friends and colleagues; for the numerous services they render and the innumerable sacrifices they make to ensure the health and well-being of the family, society and the country.
On this occasion, SFF would also like to review the present status of men in the society and highlight the need to accord men the privileges and protections that they rightly deserve as fellow humans.
The Government of India collects 82% of its tax revenue from men, but not a single rupee has been allocated in the name of men’s welfare in the country’s budget in the last 60 years. On the contrary, men are being subjected to severe discrimination under law and their basic human rights are being violated every day in the name of more and more legal provisions that claim to empower and protect women.
Thousands of men are becoming victims of “legal terrorism” unleashed by the misuse of Indian Penal Code Section 498A, Protection of Women Against Domestic Violence Act, adultery laws, laws against rape and sexual harassment, and even divorce, maintenance and child custody laws.
The Universal Declaration of Human rights states that “all are equal before the law, and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law”. Article 14 of the Indian Constitution declares that “The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.” However, the Government of India has not made any provisions to protect men against any form of domestic abuse or harassment at the work place.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights also proclaims that “everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law.” However, women-protection laws in India presume that the accused man is guilty until proven innocent, thus violating the presumption of innocence and the principles of fair trial guaranteed under Articles 20 and 21 of the Constitution of India, in addition to defying the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
SFF has been working hard to sensitize the public to these serious issues, and to urge the Government to take appropriate measures to alleviate men’s woes in the present times.
As part of these efforts, India celebrated International Men’s Day for the first time on 19 November, 2007, under the aegis of SFF and related organizations. Owing to SFF’s campaign to build a consensus on the celebration of International Men’s Day across the world, Australia is joining hands with India this year.
In observance of International Men’s Day, 2008, SFF is organizing a demonstration at Jantar Mantar, Delhi, on 19 November, 2008, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., to voice our concerns to the public, media, law-makers and the Government of India. Our sentiments will be echoed in cities across India including Mumbai, Kolkata, Nagpur, Lucknow, Bangalore and Hyderabad through the activities of various local chapters and NGOs working towards family harmony and gender equality.
On this occasion, we demand the Government of India to institute a “Ministry for Men’s Welfare” to cater to men’s needs in the changing society.
In addition, we demand the Government of India to:
• 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.
• 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, family laws (divorce, maintenance and child custody) should be made gender-neutral.
• Pass directives to resolve all marital disputes under civil law.
• 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.
• Grant joint custody of children to both spouses upon dissolution of marriage.
We request members of the print and electronic media to show solidarity by joining us in large numbers and providing unprecedented coverage for this event.