An Open Letter to the US Senators and Representatives

Sub: International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) will jail more innocent citizens and break more families.

Dear United States Senator/Representative,

I am writing on behalf of All India Forgotten Women’s Association (AIFWA), the True Equity Network (TEN) India, and Andhra Pradesh Mothers-in-law Protection Association (APMPA), to urge you to stop the passage of I-VAWA.

I urge you to consider the present situation in India which has resulted from the export of anti-male, anti-family laws and policies from the United States.

Indian laws against domestic violence are irrational and discriminatory, and blatantly violate provisions of the Indian Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Most importantly, the implementation of such laws depends on a law enforcement system and judiciary which are replete with corrupt officials who, for their own monetary gains, embolden women to take undue advantage of the credibility granted to them by Indian law.

• The Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims that “everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law.”

However, Indian laws against domestic violence presume that the accused is guilty until proven innocent and violate universal principles of fair trial.

• Article 21 of the Indian Constitution states that “no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law”.

However, every year, over 100,000 innocent persons (one innocent person every 5 minutes) are arrested under IPC Section 498A, including 4,000 innocent senior citizens (one innocent elderly person every 2.5 hours) and 350 children (one child per day) without evidence or investigation.

• The Universal Declaration of Human rights states that “all are equal before the law, and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law”. Article 14 of the Indian Constitution declares that “The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.”

However, Indian laws against domestic violence blatantly deny protection to men against any form of domestic abuse, and every year, over 56,000 married men commit suicide due to verbal, emotional, economic and physical abuse and legal harassment.

• Indian laws against domestic violence are touted as tools for women’s protection and empowerment.

However, in the last four years alone, over 124,000 women have been arrested under IPC Section 498A alone, without evidence or investigation, not for committing any crime under law, but only because they were related to a man.

The export of destructive feminist ideologies and anti-family laws has broken many Indian homes, depriving thousands of children of a healthy childhood. Men and women are being forced to spend their most productive years in vexatious litigations, thus wasting valuable financial and human resources, which could otherwise have been spent for the benefit of our country.

In the present circumstances, we are forced to conclude that the United States is deliberately imposing policies and laws to cripple countries like India, and this is equal to cutting off a branch while sitting on it.

India is a country well-known for her intellectual and human resources, and her citizens have been making phenomenal contributions to the progress of the United States during the last five decades.

We urge the Government of the United States to refrain from exporting any more of its failed policies to India, as it will not only hurt India, but also the United States, and thereby, the relationship between the two countries.

We urge you to understand the gravity of the situation and stop the passage of I-VAWA.

Sincerely,

Uma Challa

President

All India Forgotten Women’s Association (AIFWA)

********************************

Below is a letter I had presented to all the members of the Senate and the House of Representatives in the year 2007 in Washington DC:

13 April, 2007

Subject: Please stop I-VAWA

Senators Biden and Lugar,

Domestic violence is a serious problem faced by men, women, and children. However, laws against domestic violence all over the world, confer legal protection only to women, often violating the civil rights of men and children. Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code and The Protection of Women Against Domestic Violence Act are similar laws which assume that:

· victims of domestic violence or marital cruelty are always women; the aggressors being always a man and his family.

· women are always honest victims, and, hence, requiring proof of their claims is unnecessary.

· the accused man and his family are guilty until proven innocent.

The implementation of these laws depends on a heavily corrupt law enforcement system which encourages women to take undue advantage of the credibility granted to them by law. The absence of penalty for filing false cases only makes matters worse.

Every year, there is a rising number of cases fabricated by wives only to threaten, extort money from, and wreak revenge on husbands and their relatives, in case of marital discord. According to the data obtained from the Ministry of Home Affairs, in the year 2005 alone, 58,319 cases were registered under charges of cruelty by husband and relatives (IPC 498A), and resulted in the arrest of 127,560 individuals including 339 children and 4512 adults over the age of 60. Less than 10 percent of the cases resulted in conviction of the accused.

Misuse of Indian women-protection laws has been noted by various authorities:

  • The Supreme Court of India termed the misuse of IPC 498A as “Legal Terrorism”, and the Delhi High Court termed it “the most abused provision”.
  • The Delhi high court has also noted the “flagrant abuse” of The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act.
  • 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”.
  • A study by The Center for Social Research (India) indicates that 98% of cases filed under IPC 498A are baseless.
  • News reports also revealed that many falsely charged, poor and illiterate women are languishing in prison every year.
  • The passports of falsely accused Indians living abroad are being impounded. Many such Indians have lost their overseas jobs, and are unable to return to their respective countries of residence outside of India.
  • Other Indians live abroad in fear, separated from their loved ones in India. Interpol Red Corner Notices are being misused against them to force them to return to India.

Many 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.

India has witnessed the arrest and incarceration of several thousands of innocent citizens, whose human rights have been blatantly violated in the name of women-protection laws. While the flaws in Indian laws and law enforcement system remain unchecked, we are faced with a new, yet similar Bill, I-VAWA.

Members of Save Indian Family Foundation request you, Senator XXX, to understand that I-VAWA, if enacted, will only add to the list of laws that are prone to misuse in India. I-VAWA will only harm more families and destroy lives of many Indian men, women and children.

On behalf of Save Indian Family Foundation, I strongly urge you to NOT support the International Violence Against Women Act.

Sincerely,

Uma Challa

Save Indian Family Foundation

Subject: Please stop I-VAWA

Senators Biden and Lugar,

Domestic violence is a serious problem faced by men, women, and children. However, laws against domestic violence all over the world, confer legal protection only to women, often violating the civil rights of men and children. Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code and The Protection of Women Against Domestic Violence Act are similar laws which assume that:

  • victims of domestic violence or marital cruelty are always women; the aggressors being always a man and his family.
  • women are always honest victims, and, hence, requiring proof of their claims is unnecessary.
  • the accused man and his family are guilty until proven innocent.

The implementation of these laws depends on a heavily corrupt law enforcement system which encourages women to take undue advantage of the credibility granted to them by law. The absence of penalty for filing false cases only makes matters worse.

Every year, there is a rising number of cases fabricated by wives only to threaten, extort money from, and wreak revenge on husbands and their relatives, in case of marital discord. According to the data obtained from the Ministry of Home Affairs, in the year 2005 alone, 58,319 cases were registered under charges of cruelty by husband and relatives (IPC 498A), and resulted in the arrest of 127,560 individuals including 339 children and 4512 adults over the age of 60. Less than 10 percent of the cases resulted in conviction of the accused.

Misuse of Indian women-protection laws has been noted by various authorities:

  • The Supreme Court of India termed the misuse of IPC 498A as “Legal Terrorism”, and the Delhi High Court termed it “the most abused provision”.
  • The Delhi high court has also noted the “flagrant abuse” of The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act.
  • 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”.
  • A study by The Center for Social Research (India) indicates that 98% of cases filed under IPC 498A are baseless.
  • News reports also revealed that many falsely charged, poor and illiterate women are languishing in prison every year.
  • The passports of falsely accused Indians living abroad are being impounded. Many such Indians have lost their overseas jobs, and are unable to return to their respective countries of residence outside of India.
  • Other Indians live abroad in fear, separated from their loved ones in India. Interpol Red Corner Notices are being misused against them to force them to return to India.

Many 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.

India has witnessed the arrest and incarceration of several thousands of innocent citizens, whose human rights have been blatantly violated in the name of women-protection laws. While the flaws in Indian laws and law enforcement system remain unchecked, we are faced with a new, yet similar Bill, I-VAWA.

Members of Save Indian Family Foundation request you, Senator Lugar, to understand that I-VAWA, if enacted, will only add to the list of laws that are prone to misuse in India. I-VAWA will only harm more families and destroy lives of many Indian men, women and children.

On behalf of Save Indian Family Foundation, I strongly urge you to NOT support the International Violence Against Women Act.

Sincerely,

Uma Challa

Save Indian Family Foundation

Advertisements

International Men’s Day 2008

Disclaimer:

All entries in this blog are original and written by me. You may find copies of these posts in other blogs with or without variations.

Often, copy-pasting of my posts, sometimes with altered grammar and vocabulary, is done without my permission. I request anyone who wishes to disseminate contents of this blog to link back to my blog.
*******************************************************

Press Release

International Men’s Day – 19 November, 2008

Bharat is a hard-working young man who jumped through hoops to make a successful career as a scientist. He was raised to believe that a good man puts women and children first, protects and provides for his family, respects women, and endures pain and sacrifice without heaving a sigh. Unfortunately, he never realized that a good man is also more often at the receiving end of abuse, until he himself became a victim of spousal violence and witnessed societal apathy towards men like him. To add to his woes, he also became victim of IPC Section 498A, a law which gave undue credibility to his wife, and treated him as guilty until proven innocent. He was arrested and imprisoned for a crime he did not commit, he had to witness his parents and siblings being jailed for no fault of theirs, he lost his job, he suffered enormous pain due to separation from his child, and with no ray of hope in sight, he ended his life at a tender age of 28. News of his death in local dailies read “a scientist ends his life due to financial problems”.

This is the story of just one of the thousands of men in India, whose thankless lives wither away every year just when they are ready to blossom. Statistics from the National Crime Records Bureau show that in the years 2005 and 2006 alone, nearly twice as many married men (52,483 in year 2005 and 55,452 in year 2006), compared to married women (28,186 in year 2005 and 29,869 in year 2006), committed suicide unable to withstand verbal, emotional, economic and physical abuse and legal harassment.

Save Family Foundation (SFF) and its sibling organizations adopted 19 November as International Men’s Day to recognize and honor men; our fathers, brothers, partners, sons, male friends and colleagues; for the numerous services they render and the innumerable sacrifices they make to ensure the health and well-being of the family, society and the country.

On this occasion, SFF would also like to review the present status of men in the society and highlight the need to accord men the privileges and protections that they rightly deserve as fellow humans.

The Government of India collects 82% of its tax revenue from men, but not a single rupee has been allocated in the name of men’s welfare in the country’s budget in the last 60 years.  On the contrary, men are being subjected to severe discrimination under law and their basic human rights are being violated every day in the name of more and more legal provisions that claim to empower and protect women.

Thousands of men are becoming victims of “legal terrorism” unleashed by the misuse of Indian Penal Code Section 498A, Protection of Women Against Domestic Violence Act, adultery laws, laws against rape and sexual harassment, and even divorce, maintenance and child custody laws.

The Universal Declaration of Human rights states that “all are equal before the law, and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law”. Article 14 of the Indian Constitution declares that “The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.” However, the Government of India has not made any provisions to protect men against any form of domestic abuse or harassment at the work place.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights also proclaims that “everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law.”  However, women-protection laws in India presume that the accused man is guilty until proven innocent, thus violating the presumption of innocence and the principles of fair trial guaranteed under Articles 20 and 21 of the Constitution of India, in addition to defying the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

SFF has been working hard to sensitize the public to these serious issues, and to urge the Government to take appropriate measures to alleviate men’s woes in the present times.

As part of these efforts, India celebrated International Men’s Day for the first time on 19 November, 2007, under the aegis of SFF and related organizations. Owing to SFF’s campaign to build a consensus on the celebration of International Men’s Day across the world, Australia is joining hands with India this year.

In observance of International Men’s Day, 2008, SFF is organizing a demonstration at Jantar Mantar, Delhi, on 19 November, 2008, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., to voice our concerns to the public, media, law-makers and the Government of India. Our sentiments will be echoed in cities across India including Mumbai, Kolkata, Nagpur, Lucknow, Bangalore and Hyderabad through the activities of various local chapters and NGOs working towards family harmony and gender equality.

On this occasion, we demand the Government of India to institute a “Ministry for Men’s Welfare” to cater to men’s needs in the changing society.

In addition, we demand the Government of India to:

•    End the “legal terrorism” perpetrated through the misuse of anti-male, anti-family laws. Specifically, Section 498A of IPC should be made bailable. It should also be made non-cognizable to prevent arrests of innocent citizens based on mere complaints unsubstantiated by evidence or investigation.
•    Make civil and criminal laws applicable to men and women equally. Specifically, provisions of IPC 498A, Domestic Violence Act, adultery laws, laws against rape and sexual harassment, family laws (divorce, maintenance and child custody) should be made gender-neutral.
•    Pass directives to resolve all marital disputes under civil law.
•    Make provisions to punish those who abuse the judicial process irrespective of gender. Specifically, heavy penalties should be imposed on people misusing IPC 498A and Domestic Violence Act as weapons for settling personal scores in marital disputes.
•    Grant joint custody of children to both spouses upon dissolution of marriage.

We request members of the print and electronic media to show solidarity by joining us in large numbers and providing unprecedented coverage for this event.

AIFW’s Recommendations to IPC Section 498A Review Committee

24th July 2008
To,

Ms. Priya Hingorani
49, Lawyers Chamber,
Supreme Court ,
New Delhi -110001

and

Ms. Manali Singhal
84, Lawyers Chamber
Supreme Court ,
New Delhi -110001

Subject: Recommendations to stop misuse of women-protection laws, to promote gender equality and to provide relief to the genuinely aggrieved

Respected Madam,

I am writing on behalf of All India Forgotten Women, an organization dedicated to promoting true gender equality and fighting against the misuse of protections and privileges granted to women. At the outset, we would like to thank you for setting up a committee to review women-protection laws. We would also like to use this opportunity to propose amendments to IPC Section 498A, which has turned into a lethal weapon of blackmail and extortion.

It is an established fact that IPC Section 498A is heavily misused. 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 widespread 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.

Noted women’s rights activist Madhu Kishwar acknowledged that IPC Section 498A is heavily misused, and that a significant proportion of individuals who approach “Manushi” these days are mothers-in-law and husbands who are falsely accused of marital cruelty and dowry harassment. Renowned IPS officer Kiran Bedi admitted that many poor and illiterate mothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, who are falsely charged under anti-dowry laws are languishing in prison every year.

A look at the National Crime Records data shows that every year, over 1 lakh innocent persons (one innocent person every 5 minutes) are arrested under IPC Section 498A. Every year, close to 30,000 innocent women (one innocent woman every 20 minutes) and 4,000 innocent senior citizens (one innocent elderly person every 2.5 hours) are arrested under IPC Section 498A. Every year close to 350 children (one child per day) are arrested under IPC Section 498A.

Discriminatory laws like IPC Section 498A are harming men, women and children of India. Due to misuse of IPC 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.

In light of the above-mentioned facts, members of All India Forgotten Women, hereby, recommend the following legal amendments to IPC Section 498A to ensure that family harmony is promoted, the innocent are protected and justice is delivered to the genuinely aggrieved irrespective of gender.

1. Ban Police involvement in marital counseling and pass directives to resolve all marital disputes under civil law.

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. Make civil and criminal laws applicable to men and women equally.

Spousal abuse is not gender-specific, and the assumption that victims of physical, verbal, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse are always women is wrong. According the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “all are equal before the law, and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law”. Hence, IPC Section 498A should confer equal protection upon men and women against all forms of marital cruelty.

3. Make Section 498A of IPC bailable.

Section 498A, being non-bailable, allows punishing the accused by imprisonment even before guilt is established. This goes against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that “everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law”. Abused women need protection, but placing unconditional faith in the statements of a woman and confining the accused husband and his family in police or judicial custody, until bail is granted by a court, is not the way to accord protection to women.

4. Make Section 498A of IPC non-cognizable.

Innocent citizens are being arrested everyday based on mere complaints without requiring evidence or investigation. Even children and senior citizens are not being spared. IPC Section 498A, being a cognizable offence, violates a citizen’s right to due process.

5. 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. The law needs to be amended 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.

6. Punish those who misuse IPC Section 498A.

Misuse of the process of law not only costs the public exchequer dearly, but also destroys the personal lives of many innocent citizens. Misuse of law and abuse of the judicial process should be treated as a serious crime, and persons who misuse IPC Section 498A as a weapon for settling personal scores in marital disputes should be severely punished.

7. 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 admit or are found to have given dowry because according to Dowry Prohibition Act, giving dowry is also a crime.

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
President
All India Forgotten Women

Letter to Ms. Renuka Chowdhury from All India Forgotten Women

3rd July 2008

To,

Ms. Renuka Chaudhary,

Minister, Government of India,
Ministry of Women and Child Development,
Shastri Bhavan `A’ Wing,
Dr. Rajendra Prasad Road,
New Delhi-110001

Sub: Presentation of our views in continuation of the 25/06/08 Round Table Conference

Honorable Minister,

I am writing to express regret that representatives of All India Forgotten Women, a leading organization working in the field of family harmony, were not invited for the historic round table conference held at the India Islamic Centre, New Delhi on 25th June, 2008.

I will appreciate it if you could please give us the opportunity to meet with you and present our recommendations and suggestions regarding laws pertaining to women.

Awaiting a positive response from your end.

Yours sincerely,

Uma Challa

+91 9704683163

President

All India Forgotten Women

Click the link below for downloading the pdf version.

aifw_letter_to_wcdministry

Memorandum to the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh

Memorandum from Save Indian Family Foundation to the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh

Memorandum issued by Commissioner of Police, Hyderabad, in 2002, ordering that NO man, woman or child should be arrested under IPC Section 498A or Dowry Prohibition Act without written permission of DCP

Women against misuse of women-protection laws

Press Release
Women Against Misuse of Women-Protection Laws

Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF) is a voluntary self-help group
formed with the twin objectives of promoting family harmony and
fighting legal terrorism (carried out through the misuse of
women-protection laws). SIFF is observing International Women’s Day
for the first time this year.

On this occasion, we, the women members of SIFF are organizing a Press
Conference and Seminar on Wednesday, 5th March 2008, at Basheerbagh
Press Club, Hyderabad, to highlight the consequences of women’s
empowerment gone awry. Through this event, we would like to bring to
light the plight of the “forgotten women”, who have actually been
disempowered and whose basic human rights are being violated by the
police and judiciary in the name of women’s rights, protection and
empowerment. We seek to highlight the woes of thousands of mothers and
sisters who have been ignored and written off by organizations
claiming to work for women’s welfare.

Over the last 60 years many policies have been instituted in the
country in the name of women’s liberation and empowerment. Special
laws have been passed specifically in the name of women’s protection
such as IPC Section 498A (law against marital cruelty and dowry
harassment) and Domestic Violence Law. Unfortunately, there are no
safeguards to prevent misuse of these protective provisions.

These “women-protection laws”, which are in essence wife-protection
laws, assume that wives are always honest victims and would never
jeopardize their own family life by making false claims of abuse. The
draconian law, IPC Section 498A, in particular, allows the arrest of
the husband and his male and female relatives, irrespective of their
age, martial status or even health condition, solely on the basis of
allegations of a wife, without any evidence or investigation.

Owing to this blind assumption and due to the absence of inherent
checks and balances to prevent misuse of the laws, many innocent
mothers-in-law, sisters-in-law and other female relatives of husbands
are arrested and harassed through long-drawn trials that last several
years.

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

Nevertheless, minor girls, pregnant women, married and unmarried
sisters, ailing mothers and even aged grandmothers have been sent
behind bars and prosecuted based on mere allegations. Young mothers
are either torn away from their children or imprisoned along with them
leaving indelible scars on the minds of the mothers and the children.

Many mothers and sisters are heart-broken to see their sons and
brothers lose their youth, their health, their jobs, all their
earnings, and sometimes even their lives, as they are mercilessly
tortured by their estranged wives, aided by lawyers, police and the
judiciary. Some women have ended their lives unable to bear the
humiliation of being accused and arrested, and the trauma of making
endless trips around the courts.

Noted activist Madhu Kishwar acknowledged that IPC Section 498A is
heavily misused, and that a significant proportion of individuals who
approach “Manushi” these days are mothers-in-law and husbands who are
falsely accused.

Renowned IPS officer Kiran Bedi admitted that many poor and illiterate
mothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, who are falsely charged under IPC
Section 498A are languishing in prison every year.

The Supreme Court of India has labeled the misuse of IPC Section 498A
as “legal terrorism”.

The Delhi High Court recently stated that IPC Section 498A is 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”.

Recently, the National Human Rights Commission noted that the Tihar
jail is overflowing with people falsely accused under dowry cases.

A look at the crime records shows that every 20 minutes an innocent
woman is arrested under IPC Section 498A.

In addition to penalizing innocent women, a large backlog of false
cases in our highly corrupt and inefficient legal system prevents
genuine victims of abuse from obtaining justice. Through IPC Section
498A the police and the legal fraternity are protecting those women
who indulge in perjury, blackmail, extortion and harassment of their
husbands and in-laws.

Despite having such compelling evidence that more harm than good is
being done to women through IPC Section 498A, none of the leading
women’s organizations, law makers nor the Ministry for Women and Child
Welfare have taken any measures to arrest misuse of this law.

All the warnings, requests, recommendations and demands from several
quarters to amend IPC Section 498A have fallen on deaf ears. Even
before fixing the flaws in IPC Section 498A the Domestic Violence Law
was introduced in 2006 with similar loopholes and without public
discussion. Misuse of the Domestic Violence law began very soon after
its introduction, and under its provisions a number of elderly
mothers-in-law have been thrown out of their own homes by their
daughters-in-law.

It is customary for women’s organizations to trivialize the extent of
misuse of these laws by women and to exaggerate statistics of dowry
harassment, dowry death and domestic abuse. It is also customary for
women’s rights activists to deny domestic abuse against our fathers,
brothers and sons. However, recent data from the National Crime Bureau
indicates that nearly twice as many married men, compared to married
women, commit suicide every year, unable to withstand verbal,
emotional, economic and physical abuse and legal harassment. While
every death of a young married woman is converted into a case of dowry
death leading to immediate arrest of the husband and in-laws,
large-scale suicides of men do not cause any outrage in the society.

Is the pain of a mother who lost a son to domestic abuse or legal
terrorism any less than that of a mother who lost a daughter? How many
more mothers and sisters should lose their sons and brothers before
measures are taken to alleviate their sufferings?

Aren’t mothers and sisters women? Don’t they deserve a life of dignity
and respect?

Does penalizing innocent mothers and sisters under false cases bring
justice to genuinely abused women?

Does women’s empowerment mean destroying family harmony and creating a
fatherless society?

Is protection of women’s rights synonymous with gross violation of
basic human rights?

Is legal terrorism the solution to all women’s problems?

These are the questions we ask the public, women’s organizations,
police, legal fraternity, bureaucrats and politicians in our Press
Conference and Seminar on the occasion of International Women’s Day
2008. We will also be submitting a memorandum to the Prime Minister of
India stating our demands to the Government on this occasion.

Demand true equality on International Men’s Day!

India is observing International Men’s Day for the first time in history on 19 November this year under the auspices of Save Family Foundation and related organizations working towards family harmony and gender equality.

In the last 60 years of Independence, many efforts have been made, many measures taken and many laws passed for uplifting, empowering and protecting women, who, as a group, were considered weak and disadvantaged. While proudly championing women’s rights, society also tacitly approved the propagation of anti-male sentiments and policies by “radical groups” and the resultant diminution in value of men’s lives and the blatant violation of men’s rights. The growing apathy of the government and society towards the sufferings of men has necessitated the observance of International Men’s Day to remind everyone of the valuable contributions by men to our families, economy and society and the need to work towards true gender equality.

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

It is also important to note that according to the Labor and Employment Ministry, during the years 2001-05, men employed in the public and private sectors lost 14,00,000 jobs, while women gained 1,00,000 jobs during the same period.

While an increasing number of men are losing employment, more women are entering the job market and defying their traditional roles within the family and the society. Nevertheless, the society is refusing to free men of their traditional duties of protecting and providing for women, children and the aged.

In addition, men are being subjected to severe discrimination under law and their basic human rights are being violated every day in the name of more and more legal provisions that claim to empower and protect women.

Thousands of men are becoming victims of “legal terrorism” unleashed by the misuse of Indian Penal Code Section 498A, Protection of Women Against Domestic Violence Act, adultery laws, laws against rape and sexual harassment, and even divorce, maintenance and child custody laws.

To make things worse, even family members of men, including senior citizens, children and women, regardless of their age, health or marital status, are arrested based on unsubstantiated allegations of dowry harassment and domestic abuse, and subjected to long-drawn trials.

The growing disregard and hatred against men in our society is forcing many Indian men to end their lives. According to the National Crime Bureau, the number of suicides by males in every age group studied outweighs the number of suicides by females, in the recent years. In the year 2005 alone, nearly twice as many married men (52,483), compared to married women (28,186), committed suicide, unable to withstand verbal, emotional, economic and physical abuse and legal harassment.

In order to achieve true gender equality and to ensure justice to the genuinely aggrieved, the Government should

· Establish a “Ministry for Men’s Welfare” to cater to men’s needs in the changing society.
· End the “legal terrorism” perpetrated through the misuse of anti-male, anti-family laws. Specifically, Section 498A of IPC should be made bailable. It should also be made non-cognizable to prevent arrests of innocent citizens based on mere complaints unsubstantiated by evidence or investigation.
· Make civil and criminal laws applicable to men and women equally. Specifically, provisions of IPC 498A, Domestic Violence Act, adultery laws, laws against rape and sexual harassment, family laws (divorce, maintenance and child custody) should be made gender-neutral.
· Pass directives to resolve all marital disputes under civil law.
· Make provisions to punish those who abuse the judicial process irrespective of gender. Specifically, heavy penalties should be imposed on people misusing IPC 498A and Domestic Violence Act as weapons for settling personal scores in marital disputes.
· Confer equal protection upon men and women against verbal, emotional, economic, physical and sexual abuse at home and in the work place.
· Grant joint custody of children to both spouses upon dissolution of marriage.
· Amend Article 51A(e) of the Constitution of India as follows:
It shall be the duty of every citizen of India—
(e) to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst
all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities; to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women AND men (as opposed to just women).
· Amend Article 15(3) of the Constitution of India as follows:
Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any special provision for men, women and children (as opposed to just women and children).

November 19th is International Men’s Day

International Men’s Day flier – English (Click on the thumbnail!)

International Men’s Day flier - English

International Men’s Day flier – Telugu (Click on the thumbnail!)

International Men’s Day flier - Telugu

http://save.indian.family.tripod.com/siff_imd.pps

http://savefamily.tripod.com/siff_imd.pps (larger file with music)

Please watch the above slide show and share it!!! Copy-paste the link in a new window and load if the slide show does not load upon clicking.

A good man, we are told,
…puts women and children first
…protects and provides
…promotes women’s empowerment at the expense of his own rights and those of fellow men
…offers his shoulder to cry on when women are in distress
…stifles emotion and endures pain without complaining.

A good man, we must realize,
…is also more often at the receiving end of abuse.

A male victim of abuse
…is often met with disbelief .
…is often told, “You must have done something terrible to her to deserve this. ”
…is often ridiculed, “Look at your size! You are a man! What do you mean she abuses you?”

The consequence
…several thousands of abused and battered men suffer in silent isolation for the fear of being stigmatized as weak and inept.

Media finds no incentive in highlighting the truth about abused men…Netas and baaboos find no financial or political mileage to be gained from helping battered men.

No one notices their silent tears, nobody hears their muffled cries…and hence no laws have been passed to protect men from any form of domestic abuse.

On the other hand, men are
…always projected as perpetrators of violence
…subjected to severe gender bias under law
…prevented from being a parent to their own children when a marriage breaks down
… often falsely accused of domestic abuse, rape and sexual harassment
…treated as guilty until proven innocent and punished based on mere allegations
…threatened and subjected to “legal terrorism” using laws like Indian Penal Code Section 498A and Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act

Male victims of “legal terrorism”
…endure arrest and imprisonment for crimes they have not committed
…witness their dear ones being jailed for no fault of theirs
…often end up losing their jobs and everything else they spent their life building
…suffer enormous pain due to separation from their children
… often have to helplessly watch their old parents wither away in humiliation and grief

The consequence
…every year, twice as many married and separated men, compared to women, take their lives, unable to endure verbal, emotional, economic and physical abuse and “legal terrorism”.

On the occasion of International Men’s Day, 2007, let us remind ourselves that MEN

…who care, protect and provide for families
…who perform some of the most risky and challenging jobs in the society
…who are our fathers, brothers, partners, sons, male friends and colleagues

are human; experience pain, emotions and tears; deserve love, care and support
and NOT further abuse from family, society, police and legal system

Idea, content and design by Uma Challa. Flier design by Vayuputra.

Press Release – Save Indian Family Foundation

Protesting discrimination under law

Misuse of anti-dowry laws and other woman-protection laws has now become a well recognized problem in India. Increasing number of aged parents, sisters and children in the husband’s family are falsely accused and arrested under these inhumane laws, and find themselves defenseless against the harassment unleashed thereafter.

To protest against this outrageous and horrific legal regime and its so called pro-women façade, men and women of the Save Indian Family Foundation are gathering at Jantar Mantar along with their families on 26th of August – The Women’s Equality Day. We are enraged by the misuse of women-protection laws and the nuisance created by women’s organizations that are incessantly pushing for more anti-male, anti-family legal provisions. We would like to highlight how the concerns of a large section of men and women have been completely sidelined in order to accommodate discrimination-based political agendas.

Over the years, various responsible agencies including Indian Judiciary have stressed on the need for amending these atrocious laws. The World Health Organization identified misuse of IPC Section 498A as the prominent reason for elder abuse in India. The Supreme Court of India has described the misuse of IPC Section 498A as ‘Legal Terrorism’, and stressed that the law must be amended in order to protect the innocent, and to ensure justice to the genuinely aggrieved. Rational and responsible citizens from all over the country and abroad have repeatedly warned that these laws in their present form are detrimental to family harmony, and left unchecked, these laws have enormous potential to shatter marital and family stability in years to come.

While ordinary law-abiding men, along with women, senior citizens and children, are being summarily arrested and ruthlessly incarcerated on false charges of dowry harassment every day, the Government has not raised a finger yet. It was not until the Minister for Human Resources Development was accused of dowry harassment that Smt. Renuka Chaudhary finally acknowledged the misuse of anti-dowry laws in public. What is deeply agonizing to us is that contrary to the way common men and women are treated, the Government is according special concessions to the Minister, thereby demonstrating that the otherwise brutal anti-dowry laws do not apply equally to all citizens of India.

Why is the Government not directing the law enforcement system to make proper inquiries before acting on complaints of dowry harassment filed on common citizens? Why are the repeated pleas for amending laws not being heard? Why are the young men and women of India forced to dissipate their energies and waste their most productive years in needless litigation? Why are so many senior citizens being traumatized during the last leg of their lives? Why is the Government sponsoring the destruction of families?

People from all over the country are coming in to Delhi to show how the drive against anti-male, anti-family laws is slowly but steadily gaining momentum. They are coming with the hope that the Government will stop pretending to be asleep, and that it will hear and respond to all our yet unanswered questions.

Social impact of draconian legal provisions and their misuse

Discriminatory laws like IPC 498A and DV Act are harming men, women and children of India.

Due to lack of social support and legal protection many male victims of domestic abuse are taking their lives everyday. Recently, the increasing threat of false cases is also driving many married men to commit suicide.

False cases are severely hampering the personal and professional lives of the most productive section of the Indian population. Aspirations of young men and women are being crushed, and their most fruitful years are being wasted in litigation. Many men have lost their jobs or have had to quit their professions as a result of the never-ending legalized harassment.

Parents are heart-broken to see their sons lose their youth, health, careers, all their earnings, and sometimes even their lives, as they are mercilessly tortured by their estranged wives, aided by the law enforcement system. Retired elders are, thus, being denied mental peace in their old age, resulting in deterioration of their health, and in many cases their premature demise. Falsely accused senior citizens have also ended their lives unable to endure the humiliation of being arrested and the trauma of fighting false cases.

The so-called women-protection laws are also causing more harm than good to women. In every false complaint at least two women, a mother-in-law and a sister-in-law, are accused. Minor girls, pregnant women, married and unmarried sisters, ailing mothers and even aged grandmothers have been sent behind bars based on mere allegations, and subjected to long-drawn trials before being declared innocent. Many falsely charged, poor and illiterate women are languishing in prison every year. Due to an excess of false cases and the systemic corruption, genuine victims of domestic abuse are denied timely justice.

Children are not being spared from the suffering either. In case of marital disputes children are being denied access to their fathers, causing great pain to the fathers and children. Children are also being arrested under false charges of dowry harassment, and imprisoned along with older family members. In other cases, children are being torn apart from their parents who are hauled away by the police in front of their eyes, causing indelible scars and fears in their young minds.

Indians residing abroad are equally vulnerable to legalized harassment. Passports of falsely accused NRIs are being impounded. Several individuals who visited India are unable to return to their respective countries of residence, and several others continue to live abroad in fear, separated indefinitely from their loved ones in India. Interpol Red Corner Notices are being misused to force many overseas Indians to return to India.

Unreasonable and easily misused laws like IPC 498A and DV Act are creating a situation of fear and mutual distrust, and adversely affecting interpersonal relationships between men and women in the society. There is a fear psychosis among men who find it difficult to repose faith in women or marriage. Increasing number of women are being misled by false notions of liberation and empowerment, and being encouraged to shun family life.

Due to misuse of laws like IPC 498A and DV Act numerous families have been broken beyond repair, and are suffering immeasurable economic hardship and emotional trauma. The country has already incurred a huge social cost in addition to the enormous financial burden imposed on the public exchequer. How does the Government propose to compensate individuals for their personal losses, and more importantly, how will it explain the squandering of tax payer money to sponsor its discriminatory politics?

Victims of legal discrimination – the grim statistics

The statistics on suicides in India tell the tale of harsh ground realities faced by men in Indian society.

In the recent years, the number of suicides by males in every age group studied outnumbered the number of suicides by females in those respective age groups. Nearly twice as many married men committed suicide compared to married women in the years 2004 and 2005. Also, nearly twice as many men separated from their wives committed suicide compared to separated women in both years.

Men outnumbered women in every method of committing suicide, except by fire and self-immolation. Nearly nine times more men committed suicide by consuming excessive amounts of alcohol, or by machines. Nearly four times more men committed suicide by firearms, by jumping of trains and fast moving vehicles, or by self-electrocution. In almost every other category of suicide such as hanging, poisoning, or overdose of pills etc., suicides of men were nearly twice the rate of suicides of women.

Overall, the total number of suicides by men nearly tripled between 1983 and 2005 (whereas during the same period female suicides only nearly doubled). Incidentally, the draconian provisions of IPC 498A were introduced in the year 1983, and overwhelming evidence points to the increasing misuse of these provisions ever since.

Every year, there is a rising number of cases fabricated by wives only to threaten, extort money from, and wreak revenge on husbands and their relatives, in case of marital discord. Between 1995 and 2005, the number of cases filed annually nearly doubled. According to data obtained from the Ministry of Home Affairs, in the year 2005 alone, 58,319 cases were registered under charges of cruelty by husband and relatives (IPC 498A), and resulted in the arrest of 1,27,560 individuals including 339 children, 28,579 women and 4,512 adults over the age of 60.

However, the statistics reveal only a small part of the grim reality. Under Section 498A, an individual is charged with a non-bailable, cognizable criminal offense, and is presumed guilty until proven innocent. The accused have to fight the highly corrupt state machinery at their own personal expense, all the while carrying the presumption of guilt on their heads. Sometimes, they lose their employment. Often, they are forced to travel to a different city or state to fight their cases.

Where would these falsely accused men and women gather the strength and the resources needed to fight the corruption and public prosecution effectively? If the accused are already indigent and cannot afford the best defense money can buy, their fate is sealed. They become mere statistics in the arsenal of the proponents of this draconian legislation.

Against this backdrop, one has to examine the statistics of conviction. In 80% of the older cases that concluded in year 2005, the accused were found not guilty. The same is true for the years 2003 and 2004 as well. Multiple sources indicate that, nearly 98% of all 498A cases result in acquittal of the accused. Despite the presumption of guilt and the overwhelming odds the accused is forced to face, the convictions are only a small percentage of the total cases filed.

Isn’t this is a clear indication of how frivolous the charges usually are and how widespread the abuse of the system is?

The Government needs to act NOW

Save Indian Family Foundation urges the Government of India to make the following amendments to the law and ensure that ordinary citizens of India are spared from needless harassment:

1. Section 498A of IPC should be made bailable.

Section 498A, being non-bailable, allows punishing the accused by imprisonment even before guilt is established. This goes against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law. Abused women need protection, but placing unconditional faith in the statements of a woman and confining the accused husband and his family in police or judicial custody, until bail is granted by a court, is not the way to accord protection to women.

2. Section 498A of IPC should be made non-cognizable.

Innocent citizens are being arrested everyday based on mere complaints without requiring evidence or investigation. Even children and senior citizens are not being spared. IPC 498A, being a cognizable offence, violates a citizen’s right to due process.

3. IPC 498A and Domestic Violence Law should be made gender neutral.

Domestic abuse is not gender specific. The assumption that victims of physical, verbal, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse are always women is wrong. According the Universal Declaration of Human Rights “all are equal before the law, and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law”. Hence, men should also be accorded protection from physical, verbal, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse by women.

4. Persons who misuse IPC 498A and Domestic Violence Law should be penalized.

Misuse of the process of law not only costs the public exchequer dearly, but also destroys the personal lives of many innocent citizens. Misuse of law should be treated as a serious crime, and persons who use women-protection laws as weapons for settling personal scores in marital disputes should be severely punished.

(On behalf of Save Indian Family Foundation)

Memorandum on the occasion of Women’s Equality Day 2007

Memorandum on the occasion of Women’s Equality Day 2007

Women’s empowerment and equality have become the buzz words in India today. On the occasion of Women’s Equality Day 2007, men and women of Save Indian Family Foundation highlight and protest the gross violation of human rights being perpetrated in the name of women’s equality and empowerment.

While the blatant misuse of laws like IPC 498A and Domestic Violence Act has become commonplace, women’s organizations and the Government are still touting them as tools for ensuring empowerment and equality of women. In reality, these laws are not about equality at all, as they are specifically designed to treat men and women unequally. In fact, not even all women are treated equally under these laws. A brief look at the assumptions of these laws is enough to understand why they are unfair.

Indian laws addressing domestic abuse wrongly assume that victims of domestic violence or marital cruelty are always women; the aggressors being always a man and his family members. While the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “all are equal before the law, and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law”, Indian men are accorded no legal protection whatsoever from physical, verbal, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse by their wives. Ageing parents-in-law are not accorded any protection from abusive daughters-in-law. How is this equality under law?

Women-protection laws assume that women are always honest victims, and, hence, requiring proof of their claims is unnecessary. Thousands of innocent husbands and their relatives (men, women and children) are being arrested under IPC Section 498A every year based on unsubstantiated allegations of disgruntled wives. While any reasonable person would agree that abused women need protection, placing unconditional faith in the statements of a woman, and confining the accused husband and his family in police or judicial custody, prior to investigation, is one of the worst forms of discrimination. How can these laws be promoting equality when they clearly discriminate against husbands and their family members?

Laws claiming to protect and empower women presume that the accused man and his family are guilty until proven innocent. Specifically, Section 498A of IPC allows punishing the accused by imprisonment even before guilt is established. This goes against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that “everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law”. How can laws that violate this basic human right and deny due process to the accused be considered empowering to anyone?

There is ample evidence to show that women-protection laws in India are disempowering innocent men, women and children. Due to excessive number of false cases even genuinely abused women have slim chances of getting timely justice. The laws have turned into weapons of family destruction, and have largely empowered women who indulge in perjury, blackmail, extortion and harassment of their husbands and in-laws. The laws have empowered money-hungry lawyers and corrupt officials in the police and the judiciary.

Women’s activists have time and again opposed amendments to IPC 498A saying that it is the only provision that provides a quick solution to women facing marital problems, since civil remedies take a long time to redress their grievances. Recently, the Domestic Violence Act, which was promoted as a quick civil remedy has also been designed to violate the rights of men and their family members. Blatant misuse of IPC 498A and Domestic Violence Act has been noted by various police and judicial authorities, and the need for amendments to check misuse of the laws has been voiced from many quarters. However, in the name of ensuring speedy justice to one section of women, women’s organizations are trivializing the injustice done to falsely accused men, women and children whose lives are literally destroyed due to the legalized harassment.

The Government has to recognize that all citizens of India should be treated equally under law and that all citizens are equally entitled to justice. The Government has to understand that arresting innocent citizens and forcing them to endure long-drawn trials cannot be justified under any circumstances, nor will it redress the grievances of genuine victims of domestic violence. It is high time the Government acknowledges that IPC 498A and Domestic Violence Law are not only anti-men, but also anti-women, anti-children, and anti-family. It is imperative that the Government makes the following amendments to IPC Section 498A and Domestic Violence Law to minimize the misuse of these provisions. Specifically, the Government should

·    make Section 498A of IPC bailable
·    make Section 498A of IPC non-cognizable to prevent arrests of innocent citizens based on mere complaints unsubstantiated by evidence or investigation.
·    make IPC 498A and Domestic Violence Law gender neutral, and provide equal protection for men and women from domestic violence
·    impose heavy penalties on people misusing IPC 498A and Domestic Violence Law as weapons for settling personal scores in marital disputes

(On behalf of Save Indian Family Foundation)