Breaking the silence against imposed “martyrdom”

During the last few months, there has been a wave of praise in the mainstream and social media for an Indian documentary film on IPC section 498A entitled “Martyrs of Marriage”. The filmmaker, Deepika Bhardwaj, has been extolled not only for technical excellence in filmmaking, but has also been elevated as the messiah for men. Recently, there has also been an expected, well-justified and visible pushback from the men’s movement in India, because the movie is anachronistic, it promotes a feminist lie, misrepresents men’s rights activists (MRAs) and undermines the men’s rights movement (MRM), which provided much support, information and content for the film.

 

The perspective of the men’s movement and the reasons for the pushback require a close look at the history, significance and purpose of the men’s movement, and the factual narrative that Indian MRAs have fought to establish over the last 10-13 years. It would involve learning, in depth, about why IPC 498A is a malicious law and not a law made to save lives as claimed by the film. People who are not interested in this academic exercise are bound to look to the documentary film as an authentic source of information, representative of MRAs and the entire length, breadth and depth of the MRM.

 

I would urge everyone to make the effort to know more about the MRM, MRAs and why they would vehemently oppose the only film which claims to give them a voice and show their side of the story; and why MRAs would oppose a filmmaker, who is sympathetic towards a men’s issue, becoming the face of the MRM and the “voice of men”.

 

To this end, I will direct the attention of the readers towards certain crucial but invisible aspects that do not require you to have any background in the MRM, but just require basic human intelligence to understand.

 

Every person who is arrested and imprisoned based on a false complaint goes through a phase where they are dying to scream out to the world that they are not criminals. They are stigmatized in the society, they are vilified by the media, and pushed into a corner so much so that the only thought that dominates the person’s existence is the need to NOT be identified as a criminal. There are many who experience the need to be identified as victims, and they want their personal narrative to be heard by someone, especially by those who hold the power to influence the social and political narrative, such as journalists, filmmakers, celebrities and politicians.

 

However, victimhood is an affliction suffered by but a fraction of individuals who are implicated in false cases. Unfortunately though, individuals and entities that control the narrative do not understand that a need to “not be identified as criminal” does not automatically translate into a “need to be identified as a victim”. As a result, even sympathetic journalists and filmmakers impose victimhood and martyrdom on everyone because victimhood sells, and is seen as the only way to bring attention to problems.  

 

This kind of victimhood is a state of mind, and it does not have anything to do with what life throws at us, false cases included. MRAs who have counseled hundreds of affected men observe that “men carrying victimhood for long periods of time works like an addiction which eventually destroys them. MRAs also feel that fostering or nurturing perpetual victimhood in victimized people is a feminist recipe and does not bode well for any society”. Over the last 10 years, MRAs have worked very hard to exctricate men from this sense of victimhood, to empower them to stand up for themselves, and to take responsibility for changing not just malevolent laws like 498a, but the overall social mindset which sees males as disposable.

legal terrorism

When a person does not wallow in victimhood, it is assumed that they are either culpable or that they do not experience any pain. It takes much time and struggle to gather the voice to deny criminality, to maintain the resolve, and fight to the finish to establish one’s innocence in the courts of law. Every person who has walked out of the court after hearing the words “acquitted” knows the feeling of taking a full breath of air, walking with their head held high, with the kind of satisfaction and joy that the heart does not seem enough to hold.

 

Everyday, the mainstream media keeps declaring innocent people as criminals without trial for the sake of political correctness and ratings. To those who have experienced it, acquittal means restoring one’s honor and dignity, even though one may have lost many years, dear ones, life’s savings and all the things one has given one’s life to. It is such a profoundly liberating experience, that the voice, which for many years, wanted to scream “I am not a criminal”, now wants to scream “I won” until the sound of vindication reverberates all over. MRAs have always fought, worked hard to empower and encourage others to fight, to demonstrate that we are real people and not mere numbers or data points in the National Crime Records Bureau. However, the voice of the acquitted is never heard because the mainstream media chooses to be deliberately silent about them.

acquitted cropped

As a fellow MRA rightly pointed out to me, given the status quo, “a journalist independently gaining the trust of people who have been victimized by 498A is difficult, and to make them to open up to any publicity via documentaries is even more difficult”. When a journalist comes along, claiming to want to make a film or write about us, members of the movement are always inclined to project individuals who have won their cases to narrate their stories. This is because a person who is still fighting a trial always fears a backlash from his opposition, the police or the court of law. He or she does not want to take the risk of being disbelieved or ridiculed by others because an individual’s story is not considered credible unless their cases have ended in acquittal.  

 

Therefore, when the documentary filmmaker in question approached the Indian MRM for interviews of affected individuals, she was also directed to meet individuals who had been acquitted some years ago. Revisiting profound personal tragedies, many years after the fact and years after acquittal is an ordeal in itself, and not something anybody would want to do. However, MRAs, who chose to take one for the team, reluctantly opened up to the filmmaker who promised to highlight these stories as those of hope and triumph to inspire others to fight. MRAs unravelled personal details to demonstrate that they are normal people, just as vulnerable as anyone else, and traced their own journey to victory, in parallel with their activism in the MRM to inspire everyone to be “that second mouse”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51lFmdChOA0

 

When these detailed accounts of gallant fight are edited, placed out of context and shown as stories of plight, and the filmmaker uses her film and her public image to promote victimhood, to become the face of MRM and the “voice of men” by lie of omission, one is bound to feel violated. The filmmaker silencing MRAs, by playing the victim card against them is an additional violation that needs to be overcome. Under such circumstances, it takes much time, effort and thought to gather the voice to say “I am not a victim”, and to initiate a meaningful conversation around the important issues concerning MRAs and the MRM. The struggle to deny this imposed martyrdom is just as emotionally excruciating as the one to deny imposed criminality.

 

It is important to recognize that there is little difference between journalists painting us as criminals for TRPs and filmmakers misrepresenting MRAs as victims just to make the cut in their career.

 

In this context, it is also important to look at how different individuals who approach the movement identify themselves in very different ways. Many individuals approach the movement for help, but always remain aloof as individuals, see themselves as unique in their hardships, feel entitled to support and help, look for a quick fix and an easy exit. They are the victims looking for a messiah, preferably in female form. In their myopic view, anybody, even a filmmaker, who can offer them a temporary vicarious experience and fleeting hope for change, is a savior. These victims would be willing to let a whole movement and the collective hard work of all the MRAs who dedicated their lives to it, be sacrificed on the altar of their personal desire for quick relief and freedom. Longtime MRAs are usually glad to take one for the team, but everyone must realize that exploitation of personal tragedies, for any reason, is an insult to the dear ones whose honor we fight and win for. It is an insult to the MRM, which gave us life and that we gave our lives to.  

 

While the film, which boasts of highlighting human struggle, ironically, undermines the same, there are some who have been foolish enough to believe and say that MRAs are jealous of a filmmaker’s success. MRAs have much to be proud of because they stand up and fight to restore their own honor and that of their families, and also empower others to fight. With no offense intended, it must be said that there is little to be “jealous” about a victim-turned-filmmaker, who has neither experienced nor understood what fighting means, and promotes victimhood among men.

 

Some MRAs have been demonized for saying that the filmmaker did not duly acknowledge the MRM and MRAs for their earnest contribution to the film, and for stating that the filmmaker is undermining the movement through calculated silence. While I leave it to experts to comment on the technical excellence of the film, I propose a thought experiment and ask the reader to imagine what the filmmaker’s reaction would have been, had someone taken all the credit for her hard work, through lies of omission. MRAs have been maintaining a dignified silence about this issue for several months, but when a filmmaker takes advantage of her popularity to undermine a long-standing movement, and becomes the “voice of men” by lies of omission, silence is no longer an option.

 

Modesty of Man

“Whoever, intending to insult the modesty of any woman, utters any word, makes any sound or gesture, or exhibits any object, intending that such word or sound shall be heard, or that such gesture or object shall be seen by such woman, or intrudes upon the privacy of such woman, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both”, reads Section 509 of the Indian Penal Code.

Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code prescribes a maximum sentence of two years in prison to a person convicted for outraging the modesty of a woman.

The Supreme Court of India has, on various occasions, elaborated on what modesty of a woman means. According to the apex court,

  • Modesty is a virtue which is inherent to a female owing to her sex;
  • Modesty is an attribute associated with female human beings as a class;
  • A woman, young or old, intelligent or imbecile, awake or sleeping, possesses modesty, which is capable of being outraged;
  • Modesty of a woman is outraged when the act of the offender is such that it is shocking and can be perceived as an affront to feminine decency and dignity. Example: slapping a woman on her butt, disrobing her, asking her for sexual favour etc.;
  • Mere knowledge that the modesty of a woman is likely to be outraged is sufficient to constitute the offence without any deliberate intention of outraging her modesty.
  • Section 354 will apply to all sexual acts committed or intended against a woman that stop short of penetration. (Note: The latest Criminal Laws Amendment Bill 2010 proposes to include ALL sexual acts as rape);
  • Lack of protest by a woman cannot be an alibi for the “offender” who has “outraged her modesty”.

Women’s organizations are also constantly up in arms about beauty pageants, movies and commercials indulging in “objectification” and “commodification” of women and outraging the modesty of women as a class. These gender zealots are of the firm conviction that female models and actresses are rather forced to trade their bodies and prance around half-naked purely to satisfy the perverse desires of men.

I will reserve my comments on how much I agree or disagree with the above laws or views on the modesty of a woman for a later time.

What I wish to point out here is the popular, egregious notion that men have no modesty to outrage, and the reinforcement of this view by our legislature, executive and the judiciary.

A more recent, very alarming trend spreading in India is the full blown attack on maleness and male sexuality in the print and electronic media, a phenomenon I found quite common in the United States.

Today, men and boys are routinely portrayed as idiotic, pathetic, uncouth and inferior creatures who are constantly in need of rescue by their “superior” wives, girlfriends or female relatives who are all set to overhaul them.

The society considers kicking, punching and slapping men as acceptable and even laudable behaviour on the part of women and girls.

Ridiculing male sexuality is considered harmless entertainment, and the few men and boys who protest are considered peevish and lacking in humour.

There are scores of men who, upon their modesty being outraged, resort to self-destructive behaviours such as giving in to substance abuse, depression and suicidal urges. One such “humourless” young man, incapable of handling “innocuous” attacks on his dignity and modesty, recently ended his life.

When I was growing up, I noticed that every time a woman or girl suffered injustice, insult or attack (real or perceived), in the hands of a male, someone would promptly ask the offender, “Don’t you have a mother or sister?” Men and boys in India are constantly reminded of their mother, sister and daughter no matter what another woman is pained about.

I eagerly wait for the day when women will be reminded of their fathers, brothers, sons, partners, male colleagues and friends every time they cause, commit or witness injustice, insult or injury against a man. I look forward to the day when men will shed their silence, stand up and thwart the slightest attack on the sexuality, dignity and modesty of men.

Jail Bharo Photos

Please find photos of Jail Bharo Andolan in Hyderabad at the following link:

http://picasaweb.google.com/trpartha/6JulProtest?authkey=Gv1sRgCNWB_5To_IjZIg&feat=content_notification#

Memo to Commissioner of Police – Hyderabad

The following is the memo submitted to the Commissioner of Police in Hyderabad on 6 July 2010, as part of our Jail Bharo Andolan.

*****

6 July 2010

To

The Commissioner of Police

Hyderabad

Subject: Joint Memo by AIFWA and AIMWA seeking strict measures to end the misuse of anti-dowry laws.

Dear Sir,

I am writing on behalf of All India Forgotten Women’s Association – an organization dedicated to promoting true gender equality and fighting against the misuse of protections and privileges granted to women – and All India Men’s Welfare Association – an organization working for men’s welfare and fighting against all forms of discrimination and abuse against boys and men.

At the outset, we would like to thank you for allowing us to stage a peaceful demonstration in support of Sri. Ravindra Gangurde’s “Jail Bharo Andolan”. We would also like to use this opportunity to present before you, the changes we seek in the law enforcement system to check misuse of IPC Section 498A, 304B, Dowry Prohibition Act, and related wife-centric laws which presume that the accused are “guilty until proven innocent”, and have therefore turned into lethal weapons of blackmail and extortion.

Several authorities have noted that in close to 98% of cases filed under IPC 498A, the accusations are false and that the complaints were only filed with ulterior motives. Several authorities have noted the wide spread misuse of this law.

  • The Supreme Court of India termed the misuse of IPC Section 498A as “Legal Terrorism”.
  • The Delhi High Court termed IPC Section 498A “the most abused provision”.
  • The World Health Organization, in its report on India clearly cited Section 498A as one of the major reasons for the “Increasing Abuse of the Elderly in India”.
  • News reports revealed that many falsely charged, poor and illiterate women are languishing in prison every year.
  • News agencies have also reported many cases where individuals have ended their lives unable to endure the humiliation of being arrested and the trauma of fighting false cases, which typically span 5-7 years.
  • The National Human Rights Commission noted that the Tihar jail is overflowing with people falsely accused under dowry cases.

The High Court of Andhra Pradesh made several judgments commenting on the misuse of anti-dowry laws. The Commissioner of Police, Hyderabad issued standing instructions vide memo No.L&O/M6/1315/2002 to check arbitrary arrests under anti-dowry laws. The AP Police Dept. has even launched a web page entitled “Abuse of 498A” on the Dept. website. The Union Ministry of Home Affairs issued an advisory to all the State Governments and Union Territories on checking the misuse of Section 498A.

Nevertheless, abuse of police powers continues and lower cadre police officials keep making arrests without proper justification and only with the intent of terrorizing innocent citizens and extorting money from them under the threat of imprisonment and long-drawn legal battles.

Police routinely enter people’s homes at ungodly hours, take accused men and women into custody, and incarcerate them in the name of “protecting women from cruelty and harassment”. Innocent citizens are illegally detained, humiliated, subjected to mental and physical torture, blackmail and extortion.

Misuse of laws like IPC Section 498A are harming men, women and children of India. Due to misuse of Section 498A numerous families have been broken beyond repair and are suffering immeasurable economic hardship and emotional trauma. In addition to penalizing innocent citizens, a large backlog of false cases pending in courts prevents genuine victims of abuse from obtaining justice. The country has already incurred a huge social cost in addition to the enormous financial burden imposed on the public exchequer.

The number of fatherless children and single mothers is rapidly growing due to criminalization of marital disputes and involvement of Police in the name of “counselling”. Of late, there is also a rise in the number of suicides and spousal murders due to misuse of anti-dowry laws, unwarranted arrests and imprisonment of ordinary law-abiding citizens. It would not be an exaggeration to state that the mindless application of IPC Section 498A is making criminals out of ordinary citizens.

In light of the above-mentioned facts, members of All India Forgotten Women’s Association and All India Men’s Welfare Association, hereby, seek the following changes in the law enforcement system to check misuse of anti-dowry laws, to promote family harmony, to ensure that the innocent are protected and justice is delivered to the genuinely aggrieved irrespective of gender.

1. Ban Police involvement in marital counselling.

Marriage is a civil matter and should be treated as such. Marital issues should be dealt with utmost caution so that harmony is restored between disputing spouses. Allowing Police intervention in everyday marital issues and allowing them to indiscriminately file criminal cases on the accused husband and in-laws is resulting in destruction of families.

2. Allow no arrests without written permission of Senior Police Authorities.

It has become routine for lower cadre Police personnel to make arrests of innocent people based on mere allegations, without proof or investigation. Strict measures have to be taken so that no arrests of any of the accused (man, woman or child) are made without proper investigation and written approval of police officials of the rank of DCP or above.

3. Ensure that “dowry-givers” are promptly prosecuted.

The family members alleging “dowry torture” or “dowry killing” of their daughter should be promptly prosecuted if they allege or are found to have given dowry because according to Dowry Prohibition Act, giving dowry is also a crime.

Until the above changes are made and unless strict measures are taken to prevent lower cadre police officials from abusing their powers in the name of “protecting women from cruelty and harassment”, we would be constrained to encourage ordinary citizens to fill up prisons and not apply for bail as a sign of protest.

We hope that you will take our recommendations and suggestions into serious consideration and promote justice and fairness irrespective of gender.

Thanking you.

Sincerely,

Uma Challa

For All India Forgotten Women’s Association & All India Men’s Welfare Association

PRESS RELEASE – 6 JULY 2010 – JAIL BHARO!

Today, All India Forgotten Women’s Association and All India Men’s Welfare Association are staging a peaceful demonstration near the Women Police Station, CCS, Hyderabad, between 10:00-11:00 a.m. as a sign of protest against arbitrary arrests of ordinary law-abiding citizens under IPC Sections 498A, 304B, Dowry Prohibition Act and related laws. This demonstration is in support of Mr. Ravindra Gangurde’s call for a nationwide “Jail Bharo Andolan”.

It is a well-known fact that today, a husband and his kin can be arrested upon mere allegations of a wife, without any evidence or investigation under IPC Sections 498A, 304B, Dowry Prohibition Act, and related wife-centric laws which presume that the accused are “guilty until proven innocent”.

The real motive behind these arrests is to terrorize ordinary law-abiding citizens and to extort money from them under the threat of imprisonment and long-drawn legal battles.

It has to be noted that complaints on celebrities and influential persons are treated with utmost care, investigation to ascertain facts is given great importance, and in almost all cases arrest is avoided, whereas, ordinary law-abiding citizens are abused, threatened, blackmailed and arrested in gross violation of our Constitutional and Human Rights.

Several authorities have observed that anti-dowry laws are among the most abused laws in India:

  • The President of India, High Courts of various States, the Supreme Court of India and the World Health Organization have noted the misuse of dowry laws.
  • The National Human Rights Commission has issued guidelines to stop unnecessary arrests.
  • The Commissioner of Police, Hyderabad, issued standing instructions through a memo vide No.L&O/M6/1315/2002 to check arbitrary arrests.
  • The AP Police Dept. has a web page entitled “Abuse of 498A” on their Department website.
  • The Union Ministry of Home Affairs issued an advisory to all the State Governments and Union Territories on checking the misuse of Section 498A.

Our numerous pleas to the Government of India to stop arbitrary arrests of citizens under IPC Section 498A have fallen on deaf ears. On the other hand, new laws are always on the anvil (sexual assault, work place harassment, acid attacks etc.) which stress on immediate arrest of men upon mere accusations made by women.

Under the present circumstances, it is imperative that our fathers, brothers and sons are prepared to go to jail along with us even if they committed no crime.

“Jail Bharo” campaign is aimed at freeing ordinary law-abiding male citizens and their kin from the fear of jail and the concomitant feelings of humiliation and suffering so that they do not drive themselves into depression, ruin their health or end their own lives.

We are submitting a memorandum to the Commissioner of Police, Hyderabad, today, to convey our intent to encourage people to fill up prisons and not apply for bail, unless strict measures are taken to prevent lower cadre police officials from abusing their powers in the name of “protecting women from cruelty and harassment”.

We demand a complete ban on Police involvement in marital counseling as marriage is a civil matter, and since Police intervention in everyday marital issues and allowing them to indiscriminately file criminal cases on the accused husband and in-laws is resulting in destruction of families and ruining the lives of scores of individuals.

We also demand that no arrests of any of the accused (man, woman or child) are made without proper investigation and written approval of police officials of the rank of DCP or above. The family members alleging “dowry torture” or “dowry killing” of their daughter should be promptly prosecuted if they allege or are found to have given dowry because according to Dowry Prohibition Act, giving dowry is also a crime.

NOTE: Aryan Vaid, former Mr. India and the first Indian to win Mr. International title endorses our “Jail Bharo” campaign.

Jail Bharo – Placards and flyers

JAIL BHARO CAMPAIGN – 6th July 2010

Flyer – Jail Bharo (English)

Flyer – Jail Bharo (Telugu)

Jail Bharo – Placards


Press Release – In support of Jail Bharo

PRESS RELEASE

ALL INDIA FORGOTTEN WOMEN’S ASSOCIATION (AIFWA)

&

ALL INDIA MEN’S WELFARE ASSOCIATION (AIMWA)

28 June 2010

All India Forgotten Women’s Association and All India Men’s Welfare Association, hereby, announce their support to Mr. Ravindra Gangurde’s “Jail Bharo Andolan” as a sign of protest against arbitrary arrests of ordinary law-abiding citizens under IPC Sections 498A, 304B, Dowry Prohibition Act and related laws. We submitted a letter today to the Commissioner of Police, Hyderabad to request for permission to stage a peaceful demonstration.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:

  • Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
  • No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
  • Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
  • No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

In blatant violation of all the above rights, thousands of husbands and their families are arbitrarily arrested every year, without evidence or investigation, under IPC Sections 498A, 304B, Dowry Prohibition Act, and related wife-centric laws which presume that the accused are “guilty until proven innocent”.

India’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has noted the misuse of dowry laws, arrest of innocent individuals and the resultant overcrowding of prisons. NHRC has urged the judiciary and law enforcement agencies to take measures against these abuses. High Courts across the country and the Supreme Court have condemned the misuse of dowry laws. The Commissioner of Police, Hyderabad issued standing instructions through a memo vide No.L&O/M6/1315/2002 to check arbitrary arrests. The AP Police Dept. has even launched a web page entitled “Abuse of 498A” on the Dept. website.

Nevertheless, abuse of police powers continues and unnecessary arrests have only been growing in the State of AP. Police routinely enter people’s homes at ungodly hours, take accused men and women into custody, and incarcerate them in the name of “protecting women from cruelty and harassment”. Innocent citizens are illegally detained, humiliated, subjected to mental and physical torture, blackmail and extortion. The honour and reputation of these accused individuals is simultaneously attacked through media trial and unrestrained slander by women’s organizations every day. Many men and women have been driven to suicide due to the trauma of false cases, arrest, prolonged trials and the resultant humiliation and financial troubles they have to endure.

According to statistics published by the National Crime Records Bureau in 2007 alone, an overwhelming 94% of the individuals arrested under IPC Section 498A were found not guilty. A closer look at individual cases under Section 498A reveals that arrests are made by lower cadre police officials without proper justification and only with the intent of terrorizing innocent citizens and extorting money from them under the threat of imprisonment and long-drawn legal battles.

Our numerous pleas to the Government of India to stop arbitrary arrests of citizens under IPC Section 498A have fallen on deaf ears. On the other hand, new laws are always on the anvil (sexual assault, work place harassment, acid attacks etc.) which stress on immediate arrest of men upon mere accusations made by women.

While it is amply clear that under the prevailing circumstances, arrest is inevitable for any man facing allegations of abuse or assault, it is imperative that our fathers, brothers and sons are prepared to go to jail along with us even if they committed no crime. Ordinary law abiding male citizens and their kin should be freed from the fear of jail and the concomitant feelings of humiliation and suffering so that they do not drive themselves into depression, ruin their health or end their own lives.

In light of the above facts, we, the All India Forgotten Women’s Association (AIFWA) and All India Men’s Welfare Association (AIMWA), extend our support to Mr. Ravindra Gangurde, who has called for a “Jail Bharo Andolan” on 6 July 2010. On behalf of our fathers, brothers and sons, we sought the permission of the Commissioner of Police, Hyderabad, to conduct a peaceful demonstration (of not more than 50 persons) near the Women Police Station, CCS, Hyderabad, between 10:00-11:00 a.m. on 6 July 2010 and personally submit a memorandum.

The following material was submitted as enclosures along with the letter:

1)    English translation of letter from Mr. Gangurde calling for “Jail Bharo Andolan”.

2)    Article from Sunday Indian; Dowry Law Sec 498(A) – How and why the law is an ass. (Special Report – English)

3)    Memo issued by Commissioner of Police, Hyderabad – No.L&O/M6/1315/2002. (Hyderabad CP’s Memo)

4)    A.P. Police webpage on “Abuse of 498a”. (AP Police – Ladies Special)

5)   Letter from the Ministry of Home Affairs to Mr. Gangurde.

Jail Bharo Andolan

28 June 2010

To

The Commissioner of Police

Hyderabad

Subject: Request for permission to stage a peaceful demonstration in support of Mr. Ravindra Gangurde’s “Jail Bharo Andolan” – All India Forgotten Women’s Association and All India Men’s Welfare Association

Sir,

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:

  • Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
  • No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
  • Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
  • No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

In blatant violation of all the above rights, thousands of husbands and their families are arbitrarily arrested every year, without evidence or investigation, under IPC Sections 498A, 304B, Dowry Prohibition Act, and related wife-centric laws which presume that the accused are “guilty until proven innocent”.

India’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has noted the misuse of dowry laws, arrest of innocent individuals and the resultant overcrowding of prisons. NHRC has urged the judiciary and law enforcement agencies to take measures against these abuses. High Courts across the country and the Supreme Court have condemned the misuse of dowry laws. The Commissioner of Police, Hyderabad issued standing instructions vide memo No.L&O/M6/1315/2002 to check arbitrary arrests. The AP Police Dept. has even launched a web page entitled “Abuse of 498A” on the Dept. website.

Nevertheless, abuse of police powers continues and unnecessary arrests have only been growing in the State of AP. Police routinely enter people’s homes at ungodly hours, take accused men and women into custody, and incarcerate them in the name of “protecting women from cruelty and harassment”. Innocent citizens are illegally detained, humiliated, subjected to mental and physical torture, blackmail and extortion. The honour and reputation of these accused individuals is simultaneously attacked through media trial and unrestrained slander by women’s organizations every day. Many men and women have been driven to suicide due to the trauma of false cases, arrest, prolonged trials and the resultant humiliation and financial troubles they have to endure.

According to statistics published by the National Crime Records Bureau in 2007 alone, an overwhelming 94% of the individuals arrested under IPC Section 498A were found not guilty. A closer look at individual cases under Section 498A reveals that arrests are made by lower cadre police officials without proper justification and only with the intent of terrorizing innocent citizens and extorting money from them under the threat of imprisonment and long-drawn legal battles.

Our numerous pleas to the Government of India to stop arbitrary arrests of citizens under IPC Section 498A have fallen on deaf ears. On the other hand, new laws are always on the anvil (sexual assault, work place harassment, acid attacks etc.) which stress on immediate arrest of men upon mere accusations made by women.

While it is amply clear that under the prevailing circumstances, arrest is inevitable for any man facing allegations of abuse or assault, it is imperative that our fathers, brothers and sons are prepared to go to jail along with us even if they committed no crime. Ordinary law abiding male citizens and their kin should be freed from the fear of jail and the concomitant feelings of humiliation and suffering so that they do not drive themselves into depression, ruin their health or end their own lives.

In light of the above facts, we, the All India Forgotten Women’s Association (AIFWA) and All India Men’s Welfare Association (AIMWA), would like to extend our support to Mr. Ravindra Gangurde, who has called for a “Jail Bharo Andolan” on 6 July 2010 (letter attached). On behalf of our fathers, brothers and sons, we seek your kind permission to conduct a peaceful demonstration (of not more than 50 persons) near the Women Police Station, CCS, Hyderabad, between 10:00-11:00 a.m. on 6 July 2010 and submit a memorandum to you personally at the Commissionerate of Police in Basheerbagh.

We look forward to your favourable response at the earliest.

Thank you,

Uma Challa

President

All India Forgotten Women (Regd.)

Encl:

1)    Letter from Mr. Gangurde calling for “Jail Bharo Andolan”.

2)    Article from India Post; Dowry Law Sec 498(A) – How and why the law is an ass. (Special Report – English)

3)    Memo vide No.L&O/M6/1315/2002, issued by Commissioner of Police, Hyderabad. (Hyderabad CP’s Memo)

4)   A.P. Police webpage on “Abuse of 498a”. (AP Police – Ladies Special)

5)   Letter from the Ministry of Home Affairs to Mr. Gangurde

Fathers’ Day becoming Fatherless Day

Press Release

On the occasion of Fathers’ Day – 20 june

Subject: Fathers’ Day becoming Fatherless Day

Fathers’ Day is celebrated on the third Sunday of June every year, but for many children 20th June will be a Fatherless Day this year.

Every year more and more children are becoming fatherless thanks to the Family Courts which grant sole and total custody of children to mothers, with total disregard to the love and affection that fathers and children have towards each other.

Fathers are denied custody as a rule rather than an exception. If at all visitation is ordered to fathers, it is limited to 30 minutes or 1 hour in a month contrary to the requirement of the UN resolution that no child should be denied access to either parent.

Indian Family Courts appear to have declared a war against fathers and are adopting every possible means to create a “fatherless society” and to reduce men to mere ATM machines and sperm donors.

Cases filed in Family Courts linger on indefinitely while wives enjoy full custody of children, interim maintenance and child support at the expense of husbands.

The attitude of the Family Courts in the matters of ordering child custody/visitation, maintenance and alimony is completely biased against husbands. Even in the few cases where fathers manage to obtain visitation rights, no action is taken against mothers who disobey the orders. On the other hand, fathers who try to visit their children are accused of trying to kidnap their own children.

While there is much emphasis on a wife’s rights on husbands and children, no order is passed on the responsibilities of a wife towards herself and her matrimonial family. Husbands, on the other hand, are heaped with disproportionate responsibilities with no rights over their wives or children.

The brazenly anti-male mindset of Indian Family Courts is making it a crime to be born male in India. The continued onslaught on men and manhood is gradually destroying the faith of men on the system of marriage and societal values as a whole. As a result many men are being forced to commit suicide or shun marriage altogether paving the way for a fatherless society full of single mothers in the future.

We strongly denounce the attitude of the Family Courts which consider children as the exclusive property of the mother and totally deny access to the father and his family. We strongly condemn the belief of the Family Courts that the husband alone is bound to earn and maintain his wife and children, even though the wife is either earning or sufficiently qualified to earn.

Family Courts should ensure that fathers are given equal custody and unhindered access to children that mothers enjoy. The practice of showing children for 30 minutes or 1 hour like a TV show to a father without providing him an opportunity to demonstrate his fatherly care and affection should be done away with.

The practice of passing orders for monetary compensation should be done away with and instead, both parents should be directed to share the responsibilities like buying medical insurance, paying the school fee, purchasing clothes, books etc., for children based on their respective and combined financial capacities.

AIMWA led a Nationwide Boycott of Family Courts on 18th June 2010, to highlight the above issues. A peaceful protest was held in the Nampally Court premises. A memorandum was submitted to the Hon’ble Chief Justice of High Court of AP and the Principal Judges of Family Courts in the city stating that the demands we made were just and reasonable and that the non-implementation of our demands will result in serious consequences to men, women, children, families and the society as a whole. Over 400 fathers and 50 supporters have signed the petition containing out demands in the Family Courts in Hyderabad.

Fathers’ Day – Memorandum

Memorandum

On the occasion of Fathers’ Day

18th June, 2010

To

Sri Nisar Ahmad Kakru

Hon’ble Chief Justice

High Court of Andhra Pradesh

Subject: Seeking justice for Fathers and Children separated due to marital discords

Hon’ble Justice Kakru,

We seek your personal and valuable intervention in setting right the gross injustice being done to men and children in matters of matrimonial conflicts where custody of children is granted only to women, with total disregard to the love and affection that fathers and children have towards each other.

Fathers are denied custody as a rule rather than an exception. If at all visitation is ordered to fathers, it is limited to 30 min or 1 hour in a month contrary to the requirement of the UN resolution that no child should be denied access to either of the parents.

We are constrained to bring to your notice that Indian Family Courts appear to have declared a war against fathers and are adopting every possible means to create a “fatherless society” and to reduce men to mere ATM machines and sperm donors.

Family Courts have adopted the unhealthy practice of

  • Depriving fathers of the right to love and care for their biological children.
  • Forcing fathers to pay huge sums of money to support children they are not allowed to see.
  • Encouraging false allegations of abuse to paint fathers as unfit parents.
  • Permitting multiple legal battles to eliminate biological fathers from their children’s lives.
  • Passing ex-parte orders based solely on the allegations made by a child’s mother.
  • Allowing mothers to brazenly disobey visitation orders without legal repercussions to them.
  • Allowing biological fathers to be labelled “kidnappers” for trying to make contact with their own children.
  • Prolonging custody/visitation matters for years, thereby driving fathers into financial and emotional bankruptcy and forcing them to give up the desire to see their children.

Cases filed in Family Courts linger on indefinitely while wives enjoy full custody of children, interim maintenance and child support at the expense of husbands.

The attitude of the Family Courts in the matters of ordering child custody/visitation, maintenance and alimony is completely biased against husbands.

While there is much emphasis on a wife’s rights on husbands and children, no order is passed on the responsibilities of a wife towards herself and her matrimonial family. Husbands, on the other hand, are heaped with disproportionate responsibilities with no rights over their wives or children.

The brazenly anti-male mindset of Indian Family Courts is making it a crime to be born male in India. The continued onslaught on men and manhood is gradually destroying the faith of men on the system of marriage and societal values as a whole. As a result many men are being forced to commit suicide or shun marriage altogether paving the way for a fatherless society full of single mothers in the future.

We request the Hon’ble Chief Justice to ponder over these issues and contribute towards promoting a congenial atmosphere in the Family Courts for men, women and children.

On the occasion of Fathers’ Day, we wish to make the following demands:

Reforms in Mediation Counseling and Pleadings:

  1. The presence of and pleadings by Advocates in the Family Court and mediation process should be eliminated as mandated by the Family Courts Act.
  2. Persons who are professionally qualified and have a balanced perspective on family and society should be appointed as counsellors and mediators.
  3. Counsellors and mediators should be adequately compensated fixing a rate of at least Rs. 20,000 per case, made payable by the spouses equally.
  4. Mediators should be given exclusive powers to decide on dates and adjournments and should be required to conduct mediations and counselling throughout the year without holidays.
  5. No in-camera and chamber proceedings should be held unless absolutely necessary and the purpose duly recorded in the Court register.

Perjury

  1. Courts should order perjury and contempt proceedings in case of exaggerated statements and false allegations or affidavits related to employment, earnings, cruelty etc. when such allegations are proved to be false.
  2. Spouses making false allegations should be punished under the appropriate sections of the Indian Penal Code.

Child Custody matters:

Family Courts should ensure that both parents are given equal custody of children irrespective of the accusations of either party (such as a mother being adulterous or a father being a drunkard). The practice of showing children for 30 minutes or 1 hour like a TV show to a father without providing him an opportunity to demonstrate his fatherly care and affection should be done away with. We strongly denounce the attitude of the Family Courts which consider children as the exclusive property of the wife and totally deny access to the husband and his family while passing interim and final orders.

We strongly condemn the belief of the Family Courts that the husband alone is bound to earn and maintain his wife and children, even though the wife is either earning or sufficiently qualified to earn.

The practice of passing orders for monetary compensation, should be done away with and instead, parents should be directed to share the responsibilities like buying medical insurance, pay the school fee, purchase clothes, books etc., for children based on their respective and combined financial capacities.

The following steps should be immediately taken by Family Courts across the country to uphold the rights of fathers and ensure the welfare of children:

  • Special fast-track courts should be set up at the earliest to deal with custody issues.
  • Exclusive, fully functioning Divisional Bench should be set up in all High Courts and Supreme Court to hear appeals in matters of child custody.
  • When a person or couple approaches court for divorce, counseling of the parents by professional counselors should be given first priority.
  • Except in extreme cases of violence or unhealthy behavior by either partner, children should be given equal and meaningful access to both parents and grandparents on both sides.
  • Both parents should be given financial responsibility of the child proportionate to their earnings and not based on demands made by either partner.
  • If a partner prevents a child from having equal and meaningful contact with the other partner, they should be counseled first to understand the importance of equal parenting and the best interest of a child.
  • If either partner repeatedly disobeys orders of equal access and meaningful contact with children, then the children should be placed in the full custody of the partner who will allow equal access to the other parent.

We submit that our demands are just and reasonable and that the non-implementation of our demands will result in serious consequences to men, women, children, families and the society as a whole.

We enclose, herewith, the petitions signed by hundreds of fathers in the Family Courts in Hyderabad.

We look forward to your prompt intervention and necessary action in this regard.

Sincerely,

President

All India Men’s Welfare Association (AIMWA)

CC:

1. Hon’ble Principal Judge

    Family Court

    City Civil Court, Hyderabad

    2. Hon’ble Principal Judge

      Family Court

      City Civil Court, Secunderabad

      3. Hon’ble Principal Judge

        Family Court

        Ranga Reddy Dist. Court, L.B. Nagar

        4. Hon’ble Principal Judge

          Family Court

          Nampally, Hyderabad