Breaking the silence against imposed “martyrdom”

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

legal terrorism

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

 

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

acquitted cropped

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

International Men’s Day – 2016

Captions: Uma Challa

Click HERE for more posters!

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Trial By Media is Violation of Human Rights

Press Release

Sub: Petition to the A.P. State Human Rights Commission to stop telecast/publication of marital disputes as news, spreading half-truths and lies, conducting media trial, and defaming the accused men and relatives

All India Forgotten Women’s Association (AIFWA), Andhra Pradesh Mothers-in-law Protection Association (APMPA), Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF), All India Men’s Welfare Association (AIMWA) are submitting a petition to the A.P. State Human Rights Commission regarding print and electronic media telecasting/publishing lies and half-truths about family disputes between husbands and wives in the name of news, and resorting to defamation of husbands and their family members by calling them criminals, crooks, cheats, frauds, blood-thirsty demons, money-hungry wolves, and similar terms merely based on the self-serving statements of a complainant wife, thus damaging to the dignity of accused persons.

It has become a regular practice for Newspapers and TV News Channels to publish/telecast disputes between wives and husbands and matters which are subjudice or under investigation, in the name of news. Every news story of this nature has certain common elements –

  • Portraying the wife as weak, helpless creature having low self-esteem, but flawless in their interactions with the husband and his family members, and as innocent victims of the evil practice of dowry.
  • Portraying the husband and his kin as criminal-minded, sadistic persons who constantly harass the young wives for dowry.
  • Channels competing with each other to invent new terms to paint the husband and his family members as the worst villains.
  • Making assumptions about the guilt of the husband and his family members merely based on allegations of the complainant wife.
  • Passing generalized remarks demeaning all men.
  • Passing verdicts about the appropriate punishment for the accused husband and his family members.

News Channels have been pitching a wife as a damsel in distress and the husband and his family members as crooks and pitting them against each other for jerking the last drop of tear out of the viewers’ eyes and to arouse unjustified anger against the accused, to keep the viewers glued to their TV sets and boost the TRPs of the respective Channels.

Newspapers and News Channels, through their gut-wrenching commentary, are building unnecessary pressure on the Police and Judiciary, prejudicing the viewers and making the society arrest-hungry.

Such irresponsible reporting of sensational lies and half-truths on disputes between a married couple, in the name of news, causes immeasurable damage to the accused, most of whom are decent, law-abiding citizens, and also have their version of the story which they may or may not want to share with the media. The media, emboldened by the dysfunctional judiciary brazenly resorts to damaging the reputation of the accused knowing well that a person already embroiled in court cases which will take years for disposal, may not take a chance and file a case of damages or defamation.

Conducting trial by media by publishing/telecasting one-sided versions or forcing the husband and his family to face the TV camera under the threat or risk of being discredited, making unsubstantiated allegations and defamatory statements against the accused, giving derogatory titles to the accused, conducting media trial and passing one-sided verdicts, thus discrediting the accused before the case has been heard or concluded in the Court, all amount to violation of the human rights of the accused. In addition, making generalized statements demeaning all men also amounts to blatant violation of the human rights of fifty percent of the country’s population.

The physical and mental health of many accused individuals, especially elders, are affected because of maligning their personal and family reputation and many young men, their sisters and their aged parents have committed suicides unable to withstand the trauma caused by media trial and defamation in addition to prolonged uphill legal battles.

We are appealing to the A.P. State Human Rights Commission to please render justice to victims of media malice by

1) directing all newspapers and news channels to stop publishing/telecasting of family disputes between wife and husband as news.

2) directing all newspapers and news channels to stop making one-sided statements and conducting media trial on an accused husband and his family members.

3) directing all newspapers and news channels to render a public apology for giving horrendous titles to an accused husband and his family members.

4) directing all newspapers and news channels to stop making derogatory statements on men as a group and to render a public apology for the damage already done to the reputation of men as a group.

5) issuing directives such that in case the accused husband or his family members commit suicide unable to bear the trauma of media trial and public humiliation, the respective Newspapers and TV Channels will be required to compensate and pay for the defamation and damages, without the need for the victims of media-trial having to fight another tedious losing legal battle against powerful media houses.

6) issuing directives to stop media Discussions on ANY matter which is subjudice or under investigation, especially those related to family disputes, and the Hon’ble Forum may make provisions to file suo moto cases of contempt of court in case of violation of this directive.

Men Are Human Too

Today, 10 December 2009, marks the conclusion of the “16 Days of Activism Against Global Feminist Terrorism” by All India Men’s Welfare Association (AIMWA) and All India Forgotten Women’s Association (AIFWA).

Today, UN and all countries around the world are also observing Human Rights Day, with “non-discrimination” as this year’s theme.

Commenting on this year’s theme Mr. Ban Ki-moon said, “Discrimination targets individuals and groups that are vulnerable to attack: the disabled, women and girls, the poor, migrants, minorities, and all those who are perceived as different.”

Most people will not miss seeing the word “men” in the list of “vulnerable groups” mentioned above. I am sure majority of men, including the UN Secretary General himself, do not know that they belong in the list.

This is not surprising, as Mr. Ban Ki-moon himself said, “It is often those who most need their human rights protected, who also need to be informed that the Declaration exists — and that it exists for them.”

During our 16 Days of Activism Against Global Feminist Terrorism, we highlighted the serious human rights abuses that men are subjected to in the name of women’s rights and the collateral damages suffered by women, children and families.

While the Universal Declaration of Human Rights claims to be “a reaffirmation of the faith of the peoples of the UN in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women”, it is amply clear that in most parts of the world, men are not treated with the dignity and respect that human beings deserve.

On the contrary, social and legal discrimination against men and violation of their human rights are now projected as praiseworthy goals for all present nations and future generations.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:

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

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

India’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has noted the misuse of dowry laws, arrest of innocent individuals and the resultant overcrowding of prisons. NHRC has urged the judiciary and law enforcement agencies to take measures against these abuses.

Nevertheless, police routinely enter people’s homes at ungodly hours, take accused individuals into custody, and incarcerate them without bail for variable lengths of time, ranging from a couple of days to several months. Innocent citizens are illegally detained, humiliated, subjected to mental and physical torture, blackmail and extortion, driving many to commit suicide. The honor and reputation of these accused individuals is attacked through media trial and unrestrained slander by feminists every day.

The Universal Declaration of Human rights states:

  • Men and women are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
  • All are equal before the law, and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.

Family and marriage related laws in India exhibit nothing but discrimination against men and fathers. Men are blatantly denied social and legal protection from domestic abuse. Men suffering domestic abuse are compelled to endure several years of legal harassment and are often denied divorce citing “lack of strong grounds”.

Men also endure false allegations of abuse made by wives seeking divorce, and end up with a divorce they never wanted. Fathers are ruthlessly denied contact with their children, and forced to pay exorbitant sums of money as alimony and child support.

The Universal Declaration of Human rights states:

  • Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
  • No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

The Indian Domestic Violence Act empowers a wife to violate marital norms with impunity and claim residence and maintenance from the husband. Many men and their families are thrown out of or deprived freedom of movement in their own homes, upon baseless allegations of abuse made by unscrupulous wives.

Mr. Ban ki-moon asserts, “It is our duty to ensure that these (human) rights are a living reality — that they are known, understood and enjoyed by everyone, everywhere.”

It is ironical that the United Nations and its affiliate organizations sponsor these human rights violations and legal terrorism through feminist initiatives claiming to uplift and empower women.

On the occasion of Human Rights Day 2009, AIMWA and AIFWA urge you to raise your voice against global feminist terrorism, which is responsible for large scale human rights abuses against men and their kin.

We demand that the UN declares “Men are human too” as the theme for Human Rights Day 2010.


Other articles featured during the 16 Days of Activism:

Day 1: 16 Days of Activism Against Global Feminist Terrorism November 25 – December 10

http://aimwa.in/16-days-of-activism-against-global-feminist-terrorism-november-25-december-10

Day 2: Fact sheet on domestic violence against men in India

http://aimwa.in/fact-sheet-on-domestic-violence-against-men-in-india

Day 3: Beware boys! The female Taliban is coming for you!

http://aimwa.in/beware-boys-the-female-taliban-is-coming-for-you

Day 4: One in three victims of family violence is male

http://aimwa.in/one-in-three-victims-of-family-violence-is-male

Day 5: Rape Law: YES can mean NO

http://aimwa.in/rape-law-yes-can-mean-no

Day 6: Misuse of Sec. 498A of IPC and Dowry Prohibition Act

http://aimwa.in/misuse-of-sec-498a-of-ipc-and-dowry-prohibition-act

Day 7: Compromising National Security to Address Feminist Insecurity?

http://aimwa.in/compromising-national-security-to-address-feminist-insecurity

Day 8: The Myth of Women’s Oppression

http://aimwa.in/the-myth-of-women%e2%80%99s-oppression

Day 9: Domestic Violence – The Industry of Lies

http://aimwa.in/domestic-violence-%e2%80%93-the-industry-of-lies

Day 10: The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness

http://aimwa.in/the-paradox-of-declining-female-happiness

Day 11: Watch Out for Paternity Fraud!

http://aimwa.in/watch-out-for-paternity-fraud

Day 12: Feminists: So Say One, So Say Them All

http://aimwa.in/feminists-so-say-one-so-say-them-all

Day 13: Dowry death and bride burning: A look beyond the smoke screen

http://aimwa.in/dowry-death-and-bride-burning-a-look-beyond-the-smoke-screen

Day 14: “Committed to the cause of women” – The Trojan Horse of Indian Feminism

http://aimwa.in/committed-to-the-cause-of-women-the-trojan-horse-of-indian-feminism

Day 15: Fatherless Society – The Feminist Utopia

http://aimwa.in/fatherless-society-%e2%80%93-the-feminist-utopia