International Women’s Day 2009
All India Forgotten Women (Regd.) & Mothers and Sisters Initiative (Regd.)
Subject: End gender-discrimination, legal terrorism and human rights violations in the name of women’s empowerment
In the year 1910, Clara Zetkin, a German women’s rights advocate, proposed that “every year, in every country, there should be a celebration on the same day – a Women’s Day – to press for their demands”.
This year, in order to press for our demands that have been ignored and brushed aside by mainstream women’s organizations, lawmakers and our elected representatives, we, the members of All India Forgotten Women (AIFW) and Mothers and Sisters Initiative (MASI), are organizing a Dharna on the occasion of International Women’s Day, 8 March 2009, in front of the office of the National Commission for Women between 10:00 am and 1:30 pm.
The recent Mangalore pub incident has evoked a unanimous response from members of all political parties and elected representatives who stated that “assaulting women is against our culture”. While such a unanimous stand across party lines is admirable, we fail to understand why only an attack on a pub has prompted our leaders to respond so strongly on assaults against women. We also wonder why only women? Is it in line with our culture to assault men, children and the elderly?
In the last four years, over 1,23,497 women have been arrested under IPC Section 498A alone, without evidence or investigation, not for committing any crime under law, but only because they were related to a man. Noted women’s rights activist Madhu Kishwar acknowledged that IPC Section 498A is heavily misused, and that a significant proportion of individuals who approach “Manushi” these days are mothers-in-law and husbands who are falsely accused of marital cruelty and dowry harassment. Renowned IPS officer Kiran Bedi admitted that many poor and illiterate mothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, who are falsely charged under anti-dowry laws, are languishing in prison every year.
Is it in line with India’s culture to penalize innocent women under false cases?
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. 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. 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”.
Is it in line with India’s culture to abuse the elderly?
Recent data from the National Crime Records Bureau indicates that nearly twice as many married men, compared to married women, commit suicide every year, unable to withstand verbal, emotional, economic and physical abuse and legal harassment. While every death of a young married woman is converted into a case of dowry death, leading to immediate arrest of the husband and in-laws, large-scale suicides of men are completely ignored by the Government. No Ministry has been set up to support our sons and brothers. No laws have been passed to protect them from abuse.
Is it in line with India’s culture to cause incurable heartache to mothers and sisters by sacrificing their sons and brothers to domestic abuse and legal terrorism?
The Government allows disparaging of the Indian family as oppressive and Indian men as abusive, and portrayal of the streets as far safer for women than their own homes. Having failed to provide the security promised to women outside the home, the Government gives in to the pressures of radical women leaders and passes draconian, irrational laws that cause more harm than good to citizens. Notwithstanding the fact that men and women are equally vulnerable to violence committed by members of either sex, the Government is sending out false messages that crime against women is gender-driven, thus, pitting women against men in the society.
Is it in line with India’s culture to ruin interpersonal relationships between men and women by inciting a gender war?
The Indian Government introduced the Domestic Violence (DV) Act which allows a daughter-in-law to evict her mother-in-law out of her own property and render her homeless. Through this Act, the Government empowers a wife to violate marital norms with impunity and also claim residence and maintenance rights in spite of being unfaithful to the husband. Through this Act, the Government also grants live-in partners and concubines the same legal status as a legally wedded wife. Consequently, the protections and privileges, granted to a live-in-partner or concubine through the DV Act violate the rights of a legally wedded wife and dependent female members of a man’s family.
Is it in line with India’s culture to empower morally bankrupt women at the expense of responsible, family-loving women?
Through its anti-male Family Law and the DV Act, the Government allows children to be mercilessly torn away from fathers in cases of marital separation or divorce. Through the DV Act, the Government allows for the passing of ex-parte orders to take away the custody of a child from the father without a just and fair enquiry into the suitability of guardianship by either or both parents. The DV Act includes provisions for the passing of restraining orders that eliminate all contact between a father and child, only based on the self-serving statements of a vindictive wife. The Government is thus violating a child’s right to the love and affection of both parents.
Is it in line with India’s culture to destroy family harmony and create a fatherless society?
The Government has been focusing on more and more rights and privileges, disregarding how many existing rights, opportunities and privileges are poorly utilized and even quite often misused by women. It is granting rights and privileges to women without prescribing any concomitant duties or responsibilities towards the family and society. It is granting rights and privileges to women by assaulting children, men and even fellow women.
Consequently, today, there are more women who are separated or divorced. There are more women indulging in illicit relationships. There are more unwanted pregnancies. There are more women raising fatherless children. There are more literate but uneducated and morally bankrupt women, who are living parasitic lives by siphoning money away from an estranged husband or partner. There are more women who abuse laws to destroy families and the society, as they themselves self-destruct.
Is it in line with India’s culture to protect the interests of unscrupulous women, while the rest of the society pays the price?
We, the members of All India Forgotten Women (AIFW) and Mothers and Sisters Initiative (MASI), are working towards promoting family harmony and true gender equality, with the goals of maintaining social stability and nurturing responsible citizens in the country. We strongly condemn all the above-mentioned assaults on the human rights and constitutional rights of men, women, children, senior citizens and families.
On the occasion of International Women’s Day 2009, we make the following demands to the Government of India:
• We demand immediate implementation of CrPC Amendments 2008 to protect us and our dear ones from legal terrorism and human rights violations.
• We demand equal protection to men and women under law.
• We demand laws and policies that promote family harmony.
• We demand severe penalty for anyone misusing legal provisions to settle personal scores.
• We demand that balanced, responsible, family-loving women are given charge of the Ministry of Women and Child Development and the National Commission for Women.
• We demand a Ministry for Men to cater to the needs and welfare of our brothers and sons.
We request you to take our concerns into serious consideration and concede to our demands which are very much in line with the humane culture of India. We urge you to strongly oppose any form of assault on any citizen of India irrespective of their gender, language, religion, caste or class.
All India Forgotten Women (Regd.). Plot # 171, Kalyan Nagar – III, Hyderabad – 500018. Ph: 9704683163.
Mothers and Sisters Initiative (Regd.). C-5/8, Mangala Apt. 53, I.P. Extension, Delhi – 110092. Ph: 9810452017.
Her Excellency. Smt. Pratibha Patil, President of India
Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India
Shri. Hansraj Bharadwaj, Ministry of Law & Justice
Shri. P Chidambaram, Ministry of Home Affairs
Member Secretary, Law Commission of India
Smt. Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson of UPA
Shri. L. K. Adavani, Leader of Opposition in Parliament
Smt. Renuka Chaudhary, Ministry of Women and Child Development
Kum. Girija Vyas, Chairperson of the National Commission for Women