Revoking consent from “Martyrs of Marriage”

Here’s the email I wrote to Deepika Bhardwaj today, 22 June 2017, revoking my consent from the documentary, “Martyrs of Marriage”. Starting today, if footage pertaining to me is shown anywhere, be it in public screenings, private screenings or online or distributed through VCD/DVD or any other means, please let me know, so that appropriate action can be taken.

Thank you.

***

Deepika,

 

I am writing to you to ask you to delete my interview from your documentary film, “Martyrs of Marriage”.

 

I understand that your documentary is completely different from what you had me believe. It does not portray me in the manner that you had promised, and it completely ignores everything that I told you I stand for.
 
I have also learned that you are using the film for purposes other than those we had agreed upon, namely inspiring more people to stand up and fight, and promoting the Indian men’s movement. 
 
Raising money over and above your production costs, dubbing the film into other languages, making trips to screen it in foreign countries, monetizing it on the internet and showing the film at film festivals to build your own resume was never part of our agreement. 
 
I expect that you will respect my wish and immediately delete the portions that contain my interview. I do not permit you to use any footage of mine for any purpose from today 22 June 2017. 
 
Uma
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Making divorce easy? Or barking up the wrong tree?

Making divorce easy? Or barking up the wrong tree?

– Uma Challa

Published by MyIndMakers 

“lEchiMchi, nidra lEchiMdi mahiLaa lOkaM, daddarilliMdi puruSha prapaMchaM…” https://youtu.be/MmVujeuCKmI (the women’s world has woken up from slumber, and the man’s world shook with panic) was a song I used to love as a child. As a fiery young woman, I frowned upon what I thought was “misogyny” on the part of one of the greatest Telugu lyricists ever. Now I admire the clarity of thought of Sri Pingali Nagendra Rao gaaru who penned the song way back in 1962, at a time when the country was still tolerant to truth.

 

To elaborate on Pingali gaaru’s poetic rendition of facts, the first Lok Sabha in India in 1951 had 22 women MPs. Soon after, in 1955, with the advent of the Hindu Marriage Act (HMA) in 1955, Indian society was, for the first time, introduced to the concept of “divorce”. Contrary to its title, the HMA has nothing to do with marriage. It does not explain what marriage means nor does it enumerate the responsibilities of a wife and husband towards themselves, each other, their children, both sides of the family or the society. It enumerates circumstances in which a Hindu marriage can be legally broken. It was introduced to enable women who could not tolerate marriage to legally liberate themselves from wedlock, and to claim share in the marital property in the name of maintenance and alimony (HMA Section 24).

 

The most common grounds for divorce – cruelty, desertion, impotence, adultery etc. – are not only poorly defined, but are also difficult to prove. In addition, because litigation involves evidences and arguments from both parties, HMA did not prove as “empowering” to women as was envisioned by women’s rights activists (WRAs).

 

Enacting the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act of 1956, which entitles a woman to be maintained by her husband during her entire lifetime (Section 18), and CrPC of 1973, which extends maintenance to wives indefinitely even after divorce (Section 125), did not do the magic either, since they still involved time taking two-sided legal procedures.

 

In the year 1983, the Parliament passed a criminal law, Indian Penal Code 498A, which made “cruelty towards a married woman” a cognizable and non-bailable offence. Here, the word “cruelty” was left undefined and allowed to be a function of a woman’s perception and her lawyer’s imagination. Divorce and maintenance cases, combined with this draconian criminal section, which allows immediate arrest and incarceration of the husband and in-laws, proved to be fantastic tool of blackmail, vengeance and extortion in the hands of disgruntled wives for many years. It was accompanied by vigorous campaigns by WRAs to “sensitize” the police and the judiciary to be sympathetic towards women. Even such drastic measures did not prove to be “empowering enough” according to WRAs, because not all husbands succumbed.

 

The conviction rates under IPC 498A remained very low and the law only gained notoriety for its misuse. The hope that all husbands could be reined in and forced to pay a “monetary compensation/settlement” under the fear of arrest and criminal prosecution started waning.

 

In 2005, a new and elaborate civil law, Protection of Women from Domestic Violence (DV) Act was introduced. The act not only categorized every possible male action as an act of domestic violence, it also made provisions for a wife and a live-in partner to use DV accusations to claim monetary reliefs including maintenance (Section 20) and residence rights (Section 19) in the same property where the alleged violence had occurred.

 

Every year, several thousands of Indian women leverage the power sanctioned to them under these laws to terrorize husbands and to extract alimony and maintenance from them. Still, the utopia envisioned by the WRAs remained elusive since entangling a man in multiple litigations ensured neither speedy divorce nor quick extraction of maintenance and alimony.

 

In 2013, the Rajya Sabha approved the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill which, once again, claimed to make “divorce friendly for women” by providing for the wife, a share in the husband’s immovable property, after “irretrievable breakdown of marriage”. The Bill empowered the courts to decide the “compensation amount” from the husband’s inherited and inheritable property. Recognizing the “grave and far-reaching legal, social and economic implications of the proposed amendments” as pointed out by senior citizens groups and NGOs working for men, the NDA Government’s Law Ministry decided to put the Bill on hold.

 

According to news reports, there is now a fresh proposal “to explore the possibility of making it easier for women to walk out of a marriage”. This brand new endeavor, backed by the Minister of Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi, proposes to give legal validity to prenuptial agreements.

 

The Economic Times (18 Sept 2015) quotes an official of the Ministry of WCD who stated that the introduction of prenuptial agreements will “save marriages” because, “once, the liabilities, assets and responsibilities are decided in advance, a husband will be more careful and cautious in seeking dissolution. He would have a clear idea of the amount of alimony he will have to pay to his wife”.

 

The article also quotes another senior official of the Ministry who supported prenuptial agreements as a way to counter the “judicial delays on account of backlog of cases”, and the “delaying tactics husbands resort to”.

 

It is noteworthy that for the last 60 years, champions of women’s empowerment have been preoccupied with women obtaining an easy divorce and collecting maintenance and alimony by hook or crook. Their proposal to legalize prenuptial agreements is neither novel in its approach nor noble in its goals.

 

Aside from the fact that this initiative too has nothing to do with really empowering women, here are just a few problems with prenuptial agreements:

 

  1. Hindu marriages are religious unions and not legal contracts, even when they are registered and legally recognized. A prenuptial agreement is a contract, with the terms and conditions of separation spelled out. It cannot be applied to Hindu marriages without stripping them of their religious sanctity and the underlying philosophy of the union of two souls.
  2. While prenuptial contracts do lay down the terms and conditions of separation, the contracts are not binding nor strictly enforceable, and there are no provisions anywhere in the world to penalize a partner who does not comply with the terms of separation. However, the proposal to include punishments for “offending” spouses in Indian prenuptial agreements is nothing but another attempt to criminalize the marital relationship, pamper women and penalize men.
  3. In spite of having a prenuptial agreement, a woman will still be able to claim that she signed the prenuptial agreement under duress. She will still be able to file complaints under IPC Section 498A, the DV Act and other related civil and criminal provisions.
  4. Rich men will use prenuptial agreements to get rid of women by paying money, and unscrupulous women will use prenuptial agreements as a way to make quick money. We, as a nation and a culture, might do better by just legalising prostitution rather than prostitutionalizing the Hindu marriage in the name of empowering women through delusional and deceitful means.

 

It is about time the Ministry of WCD stops barking up the wrong tree and looks into positive ways of empowering women by helping, stimulating, supporting and encouraging them to achieve true economic independence. It is time we realize that unless women learn to want economic independence and unless they work hard to achieve it, without depending on maintenance and alimony, all the talk about empowerment and equality is meaningless.

 

It is time the “women’s world” awakens to this reality and embraces ways that are uplifting to themselves and the entire society, rather than those that shake men with fear and shatter their lives.

 

Alimony.9

 

 

Feminists bully, India Times succumbs!

India Times ran an informative poster campaign about men’s issues on International Men’s Day, 19th November, 2015.

Feminists have exposed their intolerance for any discussion about men’s issues and the celebration of International Men’s Day. They bullied India Times into retracting the article from their website and forced them to issue an apology. Here’s the apology note by India Times:

India Times apology

Ironically, India Times only recently updated its cover photo to one which says, “Not afraid”.

Not afraid

Of course you are, India Times! You are just plain afraid!

Thanks to the internet and social media though…Truth can be deleted from a website, but cannot be completely erased!

img-20151122-wa0008img-20151122-wa0007img-20151122-wa0006img-20151122-wa0005img-20151122-wa0004img-20151122-wa0001img-20151122-wa0002img-20151122-wa0003img-20151122-wa0000

Thanks to https://legalfighter.wordpress.com/2015/11/22/indiatimes-bows-down-before-feminists/#comment-3258 for saving, reproducing the posters and making them available for download.

 

Time to Scrap Laws Which Turn Ordinary Men into Criminals!

Beginning Saturday, 4 October 2014, the death of Raghavendra Guruprasad and his two boys has been discussed in newspapers, on TV channels, and in the social media.

For those who have not heard about him, Guruprasad was an ordinary Indian male, with above average intelligence, who worked hard to get a good education, married for love ten years ago, had two boys with the woman he loved, and worked as an assistant professor at a University for a living. He was filled with thoughts of a long life of togetherness with his wife and children. Guruprasad wanted to ensure that his family, his most precious possession, remained intact, even if it meant that he had to face humiliation in private and public due to his wife, even if it meant he had to suffer physical abuse in the hands of his in-laws.

What Guruprasad was gifted in return was a package of lies, in the form of a divorce petition and a false criminal case under Section 498A of IPC. Despite being arrested, imprisoned and put through legal turmoil, and despite being physically separated from his wife and children, Guruprasad never gave up his efforts to reunite with them because he felt that his sons needed a father. He also desperately reached out to his wife only to be shunned and rejected over and over, which eventually led him to end his misery by taking his own life. Incidentally, Guruprasad had also written letters to various authorities that he could think of, pleading them to help him, before he gave up hope.

His last phone conversation with his wife, which is available online, was his last cry for help. He hinted at ending his life, and when his wife asked him (very coldly) as to what use it would be, he said, “I am not sure of what use it would be, but I am unable to endure this…”. When his wife asked him why he called and disturbed her, he replied saying, “You say that my phone calls disturb you, but I have been disturbed every moment that I have had to spend away from you, my family.” His 7-page suicide note describes his attachment to his wife and children, and the pain he was going through because of being forced to be away from them, and because of the social pressure and rejection he faced as a result.

If this was all there was to it, the print and electronic media would not have paid much attention. We would have seen a passing reference to “a faculty member of a University ending his life over marital woes”. The feminists would not have jumped up and down in live news rooms bashing him up, and along with him, the entire male gender, and using it as one more opportunity to highlight victimhood of women.

Guruprasad had written one last letter to the Ministry of Home Affairs about the sufferings of Indian men due to the draconian law, IPC Section 498A, and begged that it be scrapped so that more men do not have to suffer like him. For TV channels that love airing high-pitched verbal battles between feminists and men’s rights activists, this was definitely a topic they could milk to increase their TRPs during primetime news.

However, the main reason Guruprasad’s story grabbed so much attention was because he allegedly killed his sons before ending his own life. The feminists, the self-professed psychologists and psychoanalysts, and certain sections of the media isolated this specific detail, and made it a topic of discussion, to label Guruprasad “a psycho”, “a maniac”, “an inhuman, barbaric creature”, “a disgrace to mankind”, and more. They asserted that the filing of criminal sections and the divorce case against Guruprasad were justified, because he eventually turned out to be a violent savage, a pervert, a deliberate criminal, and a cold-blooded murderer. While IPC Section 498A has been facing sharp criticism from various quarters in the recent past, the feminists, in a desperate bid to defend the poisonous fruit of their labor, spared no effort to malign Guruprasad’s character and life as a whole.

The fact that Guruprasad fought and won rights to visit his children for a few hours, two days in a month, speaks about his fatherly love. The fact that the children were always excited and happy to meet with their father says a lot about how much the children loved him. Guruprasad’s suicide note reveals how much he cared about his boys, and in one part of his note he even mentions his worry about the fact that his wife treated his sons badly. It is hard to imagine how badly Guruprasad’s heart and spirit were broken that he chose to take his boys along with him. It is not hard to imagine that he may have worried about the fate of his boys growing up and surviving in an increasingly anti-male society before taking the drastic step.

During a conversation about Guruprasad’s tragedy, a friend said, “You know, it’s not two murders and a suicide…it’s three murders…” I was speechless for a moment. “Indeed!”, I thought, “it’s three murders”. The anti-male society, the feminists, the police, the legal system and judiciary, had together mutilated Guruprasad’s spirit beyond recognition and killed him, and, are thereby guilty of killing his children too. The same feminists who are berating Guruprasad for “murdering children”, would show no mercy towards the boys once they grow up into adults, and end up being emotionally castrated and slowly killed because of social misandry and brutal anti-male laws.

It is quite easy to pass moral judgments against Guruprasad, but it would be good to resist that temptation and understand that it is extremely difficult for a common man to endure the trauma caused by false allegations, fabricated criminal cases (especially those filed by an intimate partner) and long drawn trials to prove his innocence. Thousands of ordinary men may have had the thought of committing murder or suicide, under similar circumstances, but a very small proportion of men actually act on it. Most men, who are otherwise bright, energetic, and capable of contributing their unique talents, knowledge and physical labor to the country, live miserable lives and die a little everyday, thanks to laws like IPC 498A.

I recall Prime Minister Sri. Narendra Modi’s Madison Square Speech in which he vowed to get rid of all the archaic, inane and useless laws, which make life difficult for the common citizen, and prevent him from functioning effectively in the society. He should have pinned socially dangerous laws like IPC 498A and the Domestic Violence Act and useless laws like the Dowry Prohibition Act to the top of the list.

The English rulers had gifted us with a self-serving legal system to destroy the social fabric of India and create a host of problems for the common man. During the next 66 years, the Congress Party and its Leftist allies enacted more and more laws only to create more and more problems, without ever resolving the existing ones. These past Governments, the law makers, the feminists, the police, and the judiciary are the actual reason why common law-abiding citizens like Guruprasad are driven to commit unimaginable crimes.

Guruprasad’s incident is not the first of its kind, but if we don’t want more such incidents to occur in the future, we need to say “NO” to State intervention in and criminalization of personal and family relationships. We don’t want a lawless society, but we will definitely benefit from becoming a society with less laws…and the first law that should be trashed is IPC Section 498A…YES…but that would require the present Government to exhibit the same courage and determination in tackling rabid feminism as they would to tackle terrorism.

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.

The Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill – 2010

The Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill 2010 focuses on women’s right to protection against sexual harassment at the workplace. The Bill cites their right to equality, right to life and right to live in dignity enshrined in the Indian Constitution.

The Bill and its architects patently undermine the basic truth that sexual harassment is neither about sex nor gender, that it is about power, and that a woman in power can be every bit as abusive as a man.

Most importantly, the Bill undermines the Indian Constitution and its provisions which state that men and women have the same right to equality, the same right to life and the same right to live in dignity.

The Bill implies that it is alright for men to be subjected to sexual harassment including unwelcome sexually determined behaviour, physical contact, advances, sexually coloured remarks, showing pornography, sexual demand, request for sexual favours or any other unwelcome conduct of sexual nature whether verbal, textual, physical, graphic or electronic or by any other means.

The Bill requires that Committees for redressing grievances be comprised of persons “committed to the cause of women”, thus, betraying NCW’s never-ending urge to pamper the female AT ANY COST, even if it means innocent men are penalized, the law and justice dispensation system are taken for a ride, and public resources and time are squandered to satisfy the whim of a dishonest, criminal minded, depraved woman. With Committees filled with individuals “committed to the cause of women” and not to the cause of truth, law and justice, is it hard to foretell the fate of males in an institution or the society as a whole?

The Bill contains provisions for “conciliation” and “settlement” between the “aggrieved” woman and the respondent. If “conciliation” happens and “settlement” is arrived at, no further inquiry will be conducted but if “conciliation” fails and “settlement” is not arrived at, then an enquiry will be conducted.  Similarly, if the terms and conditions of “conciliation” and “settlement” are not met by the accused man, an enquiry will be conducted.

When sexual harassment at workplace is hyped as a grievous crime which warrants a special stringent law, what is the purpose of the “conciliation” and “settlement” plan? Is it not simply a new means to blackmail a man to heed to the terms and conditions of the so-called “aggrieved” woman?  In what way is this law different from dowry and rape laws, which are used as weapons of legal terrorism and extortion?

The provision for monetary compensation to the “aggrieved woman” is quite an incentive to convert harmless non-sexual interactions and consensual sexual interactions into sexual harassment as per the complainant’s convenience or whim and opens up a novel and lucrative money earning mechanism.

The Bill requires that up to one fourth of an employee’s salary, or proceeds from sale of his goods or property should be paid as compensation to the “aggrieved” woman. The liability to pay monetary compensation will be treated like arrears of land revenue, and the accused will be forced to cough up money under the threat of imprisonment and fine. In other words, the punishment for not paying compensation is bigger than the penalty for the alleged offence of sexual harassment (i.e. apology, suspension, termination of job etc.).

The NCW has outdone itself once again by inventing a new concept of “punishment”, and concomitantly, a new business model, with least regard to addressing the offence of sexual harassment or the social need to provide a secure working environment for men and women.

With such egregious provisions, will not the Bill tempt women to make false allegations of harassment to claim monetary compensation or force settlements? Will it not encourage persons to sexually harass someone and pay up to be let off the hook  – in essence, the richer the person, the more their unsaid “post-paid harassing privileges” and the easier their escape from punishment?

The Bill goes a step further to encourage women to misuse the provision as it leaves it to the discretion of the concerned organization to take action when a woman files a false complaint or furnishes false evidence.

In addition, the Bill grants immunity to misusers of the provisions by precluding all information including identities of the parties, information related to “conciliation” and “settlement”, enquiry proceedings, findings and decisions or actions from the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The Bill defeats the main purpose of the RTI Act which is to maintain transparency and accountability in the system and disempowers the persons involved by violating their right to know details pertaining to their own case.

While any fair minded person would frown upon the Bill for the reasons stated above, one cannot help being appalled at the audacity and impudence exhibited by the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) in making the most sexist and discriminatory remarks as a defence for not making the Bill gender neutral.  The Ministry stated –

“The overwhelming nature of sexual harassment is sexual harassment of women on account of their female sex. Harassment of men cannot be put on the same footing character wise or incidence wise. Protection of men is also not the mandate of Ministry of WCD”.

Countries around the world including the US, UK, and all member countries of the European Union have gender neutral sexual harassment prevention laws. Even Pakistan, which passed a similar Bill in January 2010, embraced the principle of gender neutrality. However, the Indian Ministry of WCD is deliberately ignoring the nature and gravity of sexual harassment, espousing the most regressive approach, and revealing its brazenly anti-male and anti-social agenda.

It is also worth perusing the track record of NCW in cases of sexual harassment against women. For instance, 3 years ago, Mrs. Archana Pandey, a middle aged Indian woman, filed a complaint of sexual harassment and attempt to rape on the UNICEF India Chief, Cecilio Adorna, and subsequently approached the NCW for assistance. The seriousness of the allegations notwithstanding, NCW adopted an apathetic and nonchalant approach leaving Mrs. Pandey to her own devices in her fight against a huge International organization. This is just one instance which exemplifies the double standards and moral bankruptcy of the principal architect of the Bill.

It should be noted that through this Bill, which smacks of desperation to pamper unscrupulous women, the NCW and WCD are taking yet another step towards disempowering women. The Bill is not only insulting to self-respecting, honest and hardworking women but it can also discourage employers from employing competent and reasonably qualified women for the fear of this proverbial “Sword of Damocles” hanging over their heads.

Thousands of concerned citizens and several organizations have sent representations requesting the Ministry of WCD to make the Bill gender neutral and to include a strict provision to address misuse. The Union Law Ministry strongly favoured the incorporation of a misuse clause to avoid situations similar to those being faced in domestic violence and dowry harassment cases.

Nevertheless, this Monsoon Session will witness the tabling of another Bill which tramples upon men and demeans women, a Bill which neither cares about preventing sexual harassment nor about providing security at the workplace, a Bill which is yet another weapon of blackmail and extortion, a Bill which promotes gender war.

If the esteemed members of the Parliament throw all caution to the wind and let this Bill pass, the country would have no choice but to brace itself and be ready to face a social Tsunami.


 

[Enter Post Title Here]

The Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill – 2010
 
The Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill (SHWB) 2010 focuses on women’s right to protection against sexual harassment at the workplace. The bill cites their right to equality, right to life and right to live in dignity enshrined in the Indian Constitution. 
 
The Bill and its architects patently undermine the basic truth that sexual harassment is neither about sex nor gender, that it is about power, and that a woman in power can be every bit as abusive as a man.
 
Most importantly, the Bill undermines the Indian Constitution and its provisions which state that men and women have the same right to equality, the same right to life and the same right to live in dignity.
 

The Bill implies that it is alright for men to be subjected to sexual harassment including unwelcome sexually determined behaviour, physical contact, advances, sexually coloured remarks, showing pornography, sexual demand, request for sexual favours or any other unwelcome conduct of sexual nature whether verbal, textual, physical, graphic or electronic or by any other means.

The Bill requires that Committees for redressing grievances be comprised of persons “committed to the cause of women”, thus, betraying NCW’s never-ending urge to pamper the female AT ANY COST, even if it means innocent men are penalized, the law and justice dispensation system are taken for a ride, and public resources and time are squandered to satisfy the whim of a dishonest, criminal minded, depraved woman. With Committees filled with individuals committed to the “cause of women” and not to the cause of truth, law and justice, is it hard to foretell the fate of males in an institution or the society as a whole?

The Bill contains provisions for “conciliation” and “settlement” between the “aggrieved” woman and the respondent. If “conciliation” happens and “settlement” is arrived at, no further inquiry will be conducted but if “conciliation” fails and “settlement” is not arrived at, then an enquiry will be conducted.  Similarly, if the terms and conditions of “conciliation” and “settlement” are not met by the accused man, an enquiry will be conducted.

When sexual harassment at workplace is hyped as a grievous crime which warrants a special stringent law, what is the purpose of the “conciliation” and “settlement” plan? Is it not simply a new means to blackmail a man to heed to the terms and conditions of the so-called “aggrieved” woman?  In what way is this law different from dowry and rape laws, which are used as weapons of legal terrorism and extortion?

The provision for monetary compensation to the “aggrieved woman” is quite an incentive to convert harmless non-sexual interactions and consensual sexual interactions into sexual harassment as per the complainant’s convenience or whim and opens up a novel and lucrative money earning mechanism.

The Bill requires that up to one fourth of an employee’s salary, or proceeds from sale of his goods or property should be paid as compensation to the “aggrieved” woman. The liability to pay monetary compensation will be treated like arrears of land revenue, and the accused will be forced to cough up money under the threat of imprisonment and fine. In other words, the punishment for not paying compensation is bigger than the penalty for the alleged offence of sexual harassment (i.e. apology, suspension, termination of job etc.).

The NCW has outdone itself once again by inventing a new concept of “punishment”, and concomitantly, a new business model, with least regard to addressing the offence of sexual harassment or the social need to provide a secure working environment for men and women.

With such egregious provisions, will not the Bill tempt women to make false allegations of harassment to claim monetary compensation or force settlements? Will it not encourage persons to sexually harass someone and pay up to be let off the hook  – in essence, the richer the person, the more their unsaid “post-paid harassing privileges” and the easier their escape from punishment?

The Bill goes a step further to encourage women to misuse the provision as it leaves it to the discretion of the Organization to take action when a woman files a false complaint or furnishes false evidence.

In addition, the Bill grants immunity to misusers of the provisions by precluding all information including identities of the parties, information related to “conciliation” and “settlement”, enquiry proceedings, findings and decisions or actions from the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The Bill defeats the main purpose of the RTI Act which is to maintain transparency and accountability in the system and disempowers the persons involved by violating their right to know details pertaining to their own case.

While any fair minded person would frown upon the Bill for the reasons stated above, one cannot help being appalled at the audacity and impudence exhibited by the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) in making the most sexist and discriminatory remarks as a defence for not making the Bill gender neutral.  The Ministry stated –

“The overwhelming nature of sexual harassment is sexual harassment of women on account of their female sex. Harassment of men cannot be put on the same footing character wise or incidence wise. Protection of men is also not the mandate of Ministry of WCD”.

Countries around the world including the US, UK, and all member countries of the European Union have gender neutral sexual harassment prevention laws. Even Pakistan, which passed a similar Bill in January 2010, embraced the principle of gender neutrality. However, the Indian Ministry of WCD is deliberately ignoring the nature and gravity of sexual harassment, espousing the most regressive approach, and revealing its brazenly anti-male and anti-social agenda.

It is also worth perusing the track record of NCW in cases of sexual harassment against women. For instance, 3 years ago, Mrs. Archana Pandey, a middle aged Indian woman, filed a complaint of sexual harassment and attempt to rape on the UNICEF India Chief Cecilio Adorna, and subsequently approached the NCW for assistance. The seriousness of the allegations notwithstanding, NCW adopted an apathetic and nonchalant approach leaving Mrs. Pandey to her own devices in her fight against a huge International organization. This is just one instance which exemplifies the double standards and moral bankruptcy of the principal architect of the Bill.

It should be noted that through this Bill, which smacks of desperation to pamper unscrupulous women, the NCW and WCD are taking yet another step towards disempowering women. The Bill is not only insulting to self-respecting, honest and hardworking women but it can actually discourage employers from employing competent and reasonably qualified women for the fear of this proverbial “Sword of Damocles” hanging over their heads.

Thousands of concerned citizens and several organizations have sent representations requesting the Ministry of WCD to make the Bill gender neutral and to include a strict provision to address misuse. The Union Law Ministry strongly favoured the incorporation of a misuse clause to avoid situations similar to those being faced in domestic violence and dowry harassment cases.

Nevertheless, this Monsoon Session will witness the tabling of another Bill which tramples upon men and demeans women, a Bill which neither cares about preventing sexual harassment nor about providing security at the workplace, a Bill which is yet another weapon of blackmail and extortion, a Bill which promotes gender war.

If the esteemed members of the Parliament throw all caution to the wind and let this Bill pass, the country would have no choice but to brace itself and be ready to face a social Tsunami.

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