Andhra Pradesh Mothers-in-law Protection Association – Press Release

PRESS RELEASELaunch of Andhra Pradesh Mothers-in-law Protection Association (APMPA)

Venue: Public Gardens, Opposite Jubilee Hall
Date and Time: 18 October 2009, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Mothers-in-law in our country are being severely discriminated against, neglected and subjected to all forms of domestic abuse over the last decade. Unless provisions are made to protect mothers-in-law from discrimination, domestic violence, and legal harassment, and unless steps are taken to ensure their welfare during their post-menopausal years, we will witness serious deterioration in the health conditions of aging women in the country, and reduction in their life span.

Andhra Pradesh Mothers-in-law Protection Association (APMPA) is the first ever social forum created to protect the rights and interests of mothers-in-law in Andhra Pradesh. APMPA is the Andhra Pradesh chapter of All India Mothers-in-law Protection Forum (http://www.aimpf.org) which was launched on 6 September 2009 in Bangalore, followed by the launch of local chapters in Delhi, Nagpur and Lucknow.

Mothers-in-law have historically been portrayed as evil and bloodthirsty by media and popular culture. However, it is a scientifically and also statistically established fact that mothers-in-law are unnecessarily maligned and subjected to discrimination by the society.

The National Family Health Survey (NFHS) (http://www.nfhsindia.org Vol-1 Page 500) has conclusively established that a woman in the age group of 15-49 years of age faces 8 times more violence from her own mother compared to her mother-in-law. 13.7% women have faced violence from their own mother as compared to 1.7% women who have faced from their mothers-in-law.

Recent Research has shown that “daughters-in-law are programmed to hate mothers-in-law”. This is one of the most important causes of the stereotyping of mothers-in-law in the society.

Mothers-in-law are being discriminated against in spite of their generosity just for the sin of giving birth to sons and getting them married. They are being forced to part with their earnings, savings and inherited wealth and they are being thrown out of their own property at the behest of a disgruntled daughter-in-law. They are losing their mental peace and health, and many a time even their husbands and sons to untimely death or suicide when daughters-in-law indulge in making false allegations and defamation of the husband’s family. In many instances, the mothers-in-law themselves commit suicide.

Mothers -in-law in India face severe abuse from daughters-in-law:

• Physical harassment including assault, locking up the mother-in-law in a room, denying food and medication etc.
• Mental harassment including taunts, allegations, caustic comments, threatening to file police cases, disallowing communication with her son, grandchildren, defaming her and her family etc.
• Verbal harassment including name calling, insulting, abusing, etc.
• Economic abuse including extorting her money and wealth, throwing her out of her own house and forcibly occupying the house, etc.
• Legal harassment including inciting the police to threaten her, filing false cases under Dowry Prohibition Act, IPC Section 498A, Domestic Violence Act, and other related sections, sending her to jail or forcing her to run around the court for years together.
• Driving mothers-in-law to commit suicide.

The National Family Health Survey, conducted by the Ministry of Family Health and Welfare only counts women between the ages of 15-49 as women. Mothers-in-law who fall in the age bracket above 49 do not count as women, and their health and welfare is not a matter of concern for the Government of India.

While there are close to 15 laws that provide protection to daughters-in-law, mothers-in-law do not have any societal support or legal protection from any form of discrimination or abuse.

In the last four years, over 1,23,497 women, most of them being mothers-in-law, 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, who are falsely charged under anti-dowry laws, are languishing in prison every year.

Several elderly women, falsely accused under IPC Section 498A (for the only crime of mothering sons and getting the sons married) approached the National Commission for Women, seeking justice. These women have long heart-rending accounts of how they are being harassed by their daughters-in-law. The NCW’s short, yet prompt and candid response to these mothers was, “Your matter does not fall under the mandate of the Commission”.

Similarly, in June 2009, a 45 year old mother-in-law was arrested in a dowry harassment case filed by her daughter-in-law. The poor lady was allegedly gang-raped in police custody, in Bhopal. The news, which was reported in leading newspapers, went completely unnoticed by the NCW or any other women’s organization that harps about fighting atrocities against women. No panel was set up. No probe was initiated and no action has been taken against this brutality perpetrated against a mother-in-law.

On 8 October 2009, a news report described the gut-wrenching tale of a 75-year-old mother-in-law, Jiwan Devi, who is another victim of societal and legal bias against mothers-in-law. Holding back her tears, here is what she said to the journalist who visited her:

“What is the point?…I and my sons were in jail for four years before we were acquitted. And my grandchildren were at the mercy of our neighbours and distant relatives. Why?… My granddaughter is 19. While all her friends are in college, she is still in class 11. This happened only because there was no one to take care of them while we were in jail. They were also in deep shock”’

There are thousands of Jiwan Devis in this country, whose lives have been destroyed, just for having given life to sons. These are the women whose woes do not fall under the agenda of the Ministry for Women and Child Development, the National Commission for Women, or any other related women’s organization, and they have nowhere to go to seek help and support for problems specifically affecting them.

APMPA will work towards the protection and welfare of such mothers-in-law in distress by creating awareness, giving them moral support and counseling. We will also urge the government to reform the present “wife-centric” domestic violence laws and demand equal protection for mothers-in-law from domestic violence.

The helpline numbers of the Andhra Pradesh Mothers-in-law Protection Association are 9704683163, 9573605415. Mothers-in-law facing harassment from their daughters-in-law can contact these numbers.

All India Men’s Welfare Association – Press Release

PRESS RELEASE

Launch of “All India Men’s Welfare Association (AIMWA)”
11 October 2009
Venue: Public Gardens, Opposite Jubilee Hall
Date and Time: 11 October, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. India is observing this occasion for the first time this year, and four organizations in Hyderabad – Save Indian Family Foundation, All India Forgotten Women, Rishtey and Children’s Rights Initiative for Shared Parenting – launched a month-long campaign on 2 October, the International Day of Non-Violence.

The campaign aims at educating the Indian public about how the problem of domestic violence has, for decades, been misrepresented, how domestic violence has been commercialized, and how Indian laws claiming to prevent domestic violence are actually promoting domestic violence and human rights abuses against men, women and children. We will also urge lawmakers and the Government to make appropriate reforms in laws and policies and push for gender neutral provisions to end domestic violence against men, women and children.

As part of this campaign, we are launching an “All India Men’s Welfare Association (AIMWA)”, a National level organization based in Hyderabad, on 11 October 2009.

Why do we need an “All India Men’s Welfare Association”?

Welfare of boys and men has been seriously neglected in India over the last two decades. While proudly championing the cause of women’s rights and women’s empowerment, the government and society tacitly approved the propagation of anti-male sentiments, condoned the resultant diminution in value of men’s lives and supported blatant violation of men’s rights through discriminatory laws and policies. The growing apathy of the government and society towards the sufferings of men has necessitated the formation of an All India Men’s Welfare Association.

It has to be noted that while men still perform some of the most risky and challenging jobs in the society, and while the Government of India collects 82% of its tax revenue from men, not a single rupee has been allocated in the name of men’s welfare in the country’s budget in the last 60 years.

The National Family Health Survey, conducted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, does not consider men’s health and welfare important. Enormous focus on women and children, and the mention of men only in relation to how they should contribute to the health and welfare of women and children, clearly indicates the apathy of the Government towards men.

The homepage of the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) cites Vardhamana Mahavira, the sage of total non-violence, who said, “All beings are fond of themselves, they like pleasure, they hate pain, they shun destruction, they like life and want to live long. To all, life is dear; hence their life should be protected.”  While Mahavira’s teachings seem to have inspired the Indian Government to assign a separate ministry to look after issues of Animal Welfare through AWBI, the same Government did not see any necessity to establish a Ministry for Men’s Welfare.

Several laws have been passed in the last 60 years in the name of protection of women and their empowerment. However, there are no laws to protect boys and men from any form of abuse or harassment within and outside the home. 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 through laws like 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.

While society is applauding more and more women getting educated, entering the job market and challenging their traditional roles within the family and society, men are still being shackled to their traditional duties of protecting and providing for women, children and the aged.

The growing disregard and hatred against men in our society is forcing more than 56,000 Indian men to end their lives every year. According to statistics obtained from the National Crime Records Bureau, every year, twice as many married men, compared to women, commit suicides unable to withstand verbal, emotional, economic and physical abuse and legal harassment. Deaths of these men make for the brief stories we often read in newspapers stating that a certain man “killed himself due to family issues or financial problems”. 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, accompanied by media-hype, male-bashing and breast-beating, large-scale suicides of men do not cause any outrage in the society.

Domestic and social harmony will prevail only when women AND men are ensured their rightful, honorable place within and outside the home. In addition, when we ensure true gender equality under law, litigations will be reduced, legal terrorism and extortion through misuse of the law will be eliminated, and our human and financial resources can be employed for betterment of the society and the country.

The aim of AIMWA is to work towards providing protection for men and boys against gender discrimination, domestic violence, sexual harassment and other forms of abuse. The organization will also focus on related issues like physical and mental health of men, and the need for social changes, policy reforms and legal solutions to men’s problems.

The National Commission for Women – Candidness personified!

In May 2003, the National Commission for Women (NCW) felicitated one Ms. Nisha Sharma for canceling her own wedding, standing up against the evil of dowry and sending out a “loud and clear message to dowry seekers”, and Ms. Sharma became a role model for all women, overnight.  The truth, that her wedding was not cancelled due to additional demands for dowry, but because of Ms. Sharma’s pending issues with a former boyfriend, was quietly pushed under the carpet by the NCW.

In the same vein, in July 2007, a woman called Pooja Chauhan made false accusations of dowry harassment against her husband and mother-in-law, and paraded the streets of Rajkot semi-nude as a symbol of protest. The NCW was very prompt in reacting to the incident, ensured the arrest of the husband, mother-in-law, and neighbors too, for allegedly committing domestic violence against Ms. Chauhan. It did not take too long for the truth to come out and for the NCW spokesperson to put her foot in her mouth, and quickly cover up their faux pas.

In February 2009, NCW showed its characteristic promptness in ordering a probe into the “Mangalore pub incident” when a number of girls were allegedly molested by some goons in the middle of the night. The NCW and other women’s rights champions had a field-day harping about increasing atrocities on women.  When the investigation report filed by Karnataka Women’s Commission Chairperson, Nirmala Venkatesh, revealed certain inconvenient truths, the NCW found itself in the same usual “foot-in-its-mouth-situation”. This time the NCW rejected Ms. Venkatesh’s report, and fired her to save its own face.

On 5 October 2009, an airhostess approached the NCW with allegations of assault and molestation on a pilot and co-pilot of a plane on which she was a crew member. While counter allegations and witness statements quickly revealed that the story of the airhostess may just be another story like those mentioned above, the NCW habitually jumped into action, and instituted a panel for investigation into the issue, in less than 2.5 days after the incident. The two pilots have been fired even before the investigation could begin. Knowing NCW’s track record of rendering justice in such situations, does one have to really guess the outcome of this episode?

Never mind! The NCW is just doing its job of looking after protection and empowerment of women in a male-dominated society. After all, it should be okay to penalize a few innocent men to protect thousands of vulnerable women, right?

Oh! Wait a minute! Don’t jump to conclusions so soon!

Beginning year 2005, several elderly women, falsely accused under IPC Section 498A (for the only crime of mothering sons and getting the sons married) approached the NCW, seeking justice. These women have long heart-rending accounts of how they are being harassed by their daughters-in-law. The NCW’s short, yet prompt and candid response to these mothers was, “Your matter does not fall under the mandate of the Commission”.

Similarly, in June 2009, a 45 year old woman who was arrested on charges of dowry harassment was allegedly gang-raped in police custody, in Bhopal. The news, which was reported in leading newspapers, went completely unnoticed by the NCW. No panel, no probe, even 2.5 months after the incident. Surprised? No need to be. This is simply one more matter that does not fall under the mandate of NCW.

Indian women need to be very clear about their expectations from the NCW, when the NCW is so clear about its mandate. You should know by now that the NCW is literally working overtime for the cause of disgruntled, adulterous, parasitic and criminal-minded wives, girlfriends and female workers. How many more matters would you expect the NCW to include in its mandate? Why are so many of you women surprised about NCW’s modi operandi? Beats me!

The National Commission for Women – Candidness personified!

Uma Challa

In May 2003, the National Commission for Women (NCW) felicitated one Ms. Nisha Sharma for canceling her own wedding, standing up against the evil of dowry and sending out a “loud and clear message to dowry seekers”, and Ms. Sharma became a role model for all women, overnight.  The truth, that her wedding was not cancelled due to additional demands for dowry, but because of Ms. Sharma’s pending issues with a former boyfriend, was quietly pushed under the carpet by the NCW.

In the same vein, in July 2007, a woman called Pooja Chauhan made false accusations of dowry harassment against her husband and mother-in-law, and paraded the streets of Rajkot semi-nude as a symbol of protest. The NCW was very prompt in reacting to the incident, ensured the arrest of the husband, mother-in-law, and neighbors too, for allegedly committing domestic violence against Ms. Chauhan. It did not take too long for the truth to come out and for the NCW spokesperson to put her foot in her mouth, and quickly cover up their faux pas.

In February 2009, NCW showed its characteristic promptness in ordering a probe into the “Mangalore pub incident” when a number of girls were allegedly molested by some goons in the middle of the night. The NCW and other women’s rights champions had a field-day harping about increasing atrocities on women.  When the investigation report filed by Karnataka Women’s Commission Chairperson, Nirmala Venkatesh, revealed certain inconvenient truths, the NCW found itself in the same usual “foot-in-its-mouth-situation”. This time the NCW rejected Ms. Venkatesh’s report, and fired her to save its own face.

On 5 October 2009, an airhostess approached the NCW with allegations of assault and molestation on a pilot and co-pilot of a plane on which she was a crew member. While counter allegations and witness statements quickly revealed that the story of the airhostess may just be another story like those mentioned above, the NCW habitually jumped into action, and instituted a panel for investigation into the issue, in less than 2.5 days after the incident. The two pilots have been fired even before the investigation could begin. Knowing NCW’s track record of rendering justice in such situations, does one have to really guess the outcome of this episode?

Never mind! The NCW is just doing its job of looking after protection and empowerment of women in a male-dominated society. After all, it should be okay to penalize a few innocent men to protect thousands of vulnerable women, right?

Oh! Wait a minute! Don’t jump to conclusions so soon!

Beginning year 2005, several elderly women, falsely accused under IPC Section 498A (for the only crime of mothering sons and getting the sons married) approached the NCW, seeking justice. These women have long heart-rending accounts of how they are being harassed by their daughters-in-law. The NCW’s short, yet prompt and candid response to these mothers was, “Your matter does not fall under the mandate of the Commission”.

Similarly, in June 2009, a 45 year old woman who was arrested on charges of dowry harassment was allegedly gang-raped in police custody, in Bhopal. The news, which was reported in leading newspapers, went completely unnoticed by the NCW. No panel, no probe, even 2.5 months after the incident. Surprised? No need to be. This is simply one more matter that does not fall under the mandate of NCW.

Indian women need to be very clear about their expectations from the NCW, when the NCW is so clear about its mandate. You should know by now that the NCW is literally working overtime for the cause of disgruntled, adulterous, parasitic and criminal-minded wives, girlfriends and female workers. How many more matters would you expect the NCW to include in its mandate? Why are so many of you women surprised about NCW’s modi operandi? Beats me!