Are India’s anti-dowry laws a trap for urban males?

September 5, 2008

I never thought I’d see the day when a guy would shy away from feminine attention. An innocuous remark I left complimenting a friend’s photo on a social networking website backfired.

I sensed panic in his voice when he called me to clarify matters.”I am going through a messy divorce and my wife’s lawyer is tracking my Facebook profile. Any remotely intimate conversation with a member of the opposite sex could be interpreted as infidelity and I would be slapped with anti-dowry laws and made to pay heavily,” he said.

bride1.jpgAn out-of-court settlement in a failed marriage has so far cost my friend a posh south Delhi apartment and his car, assets that had taken him five years of hard work to acquire.

But he is more concerned the law will not protect his rights if his wife decides to file charges of harassment.

“Something she is brainwashed to do every day by her parents to make the most of the divorce,” he said.

As gender laws in India get tougher to protect women harassed for dowry, I am forced to wonder if we are missing a point here.

Websites, blogs and support groups have mushroomed in cyberspace offering free advice on misuse of the Dowry Prohibition Act  and Article 498A of the Indian Penal Code, one that men’s groups say are tools for ”legal extortion by radical feminists without a thought for the implications.”

Over 19,000 false cases were registered under Section 498A IPC and 615 under Dowry Prohibition Act, Minister of State for Women and Child Development Renuka Chowdhury told the lower house of parliament in November 2007, citing statistics furnished by the National Crime Records Bureau for 2004-06.

Offences under IPC 498A are “non-bailable, cognizable and non-compoundable” with a prison term of up to three years.

Advocacy groups like www.498a.org, savefamily.org and the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Husbands aka Crime Against Man Cell help men at the receiving end of anti-dowry laws.

Delhi advocate R.P.Chugh, who heads the Man Cell, says domestic violence is a two-way road and need not always refer to wife-bashing as per popular perception. If you are a married man, you know the deadly effects of silent treatment, constant nagging or sulking for days.

Women’s groups argue that actual cases of male victimization are far less compared to the abuse and domestic violence women endure everyday across the country.

I could not agree more with a Delhi High Court judge who observed that laws were made to protect hundreds of women tortured and killed for dowry every year but have become a tool for urban middle or upper-middle class women looking to make a quick buck through divorce. groom.jpg

Anti-dowry laws are meant to give voice to silent victims of social abuse — a Herculean task in a country where family pride, fear of retribution and illiteracy pose stumbling blocks.

The National Commission for Women is campaigning for stricter punishment for offenders and demanding that the scope of the Act be increased.

Delhi alone accounts for 18.7 per cent of dowry death cases and 17.1 pct of cruelty by husbands and relatives, according to a 2006 report by the National Crime Records Bureau.

A reality check in largely illiterate rural India, where women fight poverty and domestic violence every day, throws up questions whether anti-dowry laws can be effectively implemented.  They are ones, I’m afraid, who will never hear of outrageous out-of-court divorce settlements.  In most case, they will be thankful to escape with their lives.

Has the time come then to introspect on the far-reaching impact anti-dowry laws have on the lives of men and women and the burden on judiciary with every false claim of harassment?

Often police fail to conduct proper investigations before hauling off an elderly family member to jail based on a complaint by a woman. At the same time, hundreds of complaints of abuse at the hands of in-laws go unnoticed in rural India.

I feel strong laws are necessary to protect women against abuse. Laws that will deter repeat offenders. But I want them where they are truly needed, implemented through an unbiased and transparent police system with wider reach and humane approach.

55 comments

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This is a Sad case. Even if teh guy knows that the marriage is not working for him , he will be restrained to pull out just because he will need to shell out so much of his hard earned money to his wife.

Posted by Dev | Report as abusive

An unbiased, transparent police system with humane approach – not in my life time.:)

Seriously, the anti-dowry law is a much needed one, but it fails is when avarice takes over.

Many might laugh at first reading that how can women do this to their husband. but the fact is lakhs of husbands and his family members including mothers, sisters are put in jail without even basic invetsigation . In India criminals are innocent till they are proven guilty of the crime but innocent husbands are criminals till they proove their innocence, first they are put behind the bars it is their responsbility to proove their innocence or else they are criminals. what kind of laws did Indian government draft and throw it to public to harrass and punish lakhs of Innocent Indians.

Well written! I understand the man’s pain. I am going through a 498A accusation myself and although I’ve managed to take the stress well, increasingly its women targeting women. In my case the girl is very well off, and didn’t want to move away from her home. In my case the girl just wanted out after about 2 weeks of marriage and so I returned her jewelery etc. What’s probably saved my skin till date, having taken no dowry, is that I insisted on a receipt for the return of her jewelery on a piece of legal paper.

Increasingly, though women are attacking women, in my case, my unmarried sister. The goal is to stigmatize the man’s family, hoping that people will later look at the girl as a victim and not as a divorcee.

There is also a huge amount of money being made by lawyers goading women on to such cases.

The National Commission for Women is also partly to blame. You really cant have a body of decision makers without representation from all the stakeholders. The NCW needs to be consultative in its approach, and ensure that it includes organizations like ‘save indian family’ and those for child welfare. The NCW has been pushing for court like powers for itself, that’s a little like wolves asking for a right to police sheep.

Meeting a bunch of rabid feminists is a revelation sometimes. I never knew that men were so hated. What if the NCW succeeds and makes marriage a logical impossibility for women? Will it have achieved its objective?

Unfortunately, the real cases are out in the hinterlands, and as an urban male, one really has to question the wisdom of getting married anymore without legal safeguards prior to the ceremonies. As a man, you really have to cover your marriage legally.

Advice to men: Ask a lawyer before getting married! Also think about whether you really need to get married, the subsequent hassles might prove to be more than you can handle. Document your marriage.

Posted by VNair | Report as abusive

My good friend has been attending the court for this anti-dowry law… 5 years of his life are completely wasted as all his schedules have to revolve around the case. But then his wife hasn’t even attended the hearings 9 out of 10 times. Where are the justice in this law?

Posted by Anika | Report as abusive

how true.

there are also deserted/mutually separated indian husbands who are forever blackmailed in pre-498a stage for a false case. and the apparant and innocent abla is at large, undercover, enjoying sympathy and support, treating the male as her fixed deposit. pre 498a blackmail statistics is difficult to get but high time a survey needs to be conducted for some trend study.

on the other hand a male is stressed to even talk to any lady as cited in the opening lines of your article for he may easily face charges that are conveniently misinterpreted, misrepresented.

and further to unknowns a male faces suspection of being a gay or impotent and assumption that he only must be at fault.

he is actually victimised, heavily stressed and stuck, finally existing amid this ignominy and yet paying for being cleverly labelled as a criminal with no way out.

Its true that in todays times women are misusing dowry laws. But hasen’t it always been like that — any law made to protect the weakling is misused some time or the other! We have to accept the fact that living in a society, we should be ready both brickbats and bouquets!

Posted by Ashima Mahindra | Report as abusive

Truth is well written

Posted by Viji | Report as abusive

This article is wonderful. It is very true that Indian women have now started misusing the law.

Posted by Gautam | Report as abusive

The feminist movement in India has gone over-board. Billions of U.S. dollars are being sent by feminists in the U.N.O. for propogating female domination and 498A, DV, Sexual Harassment laws are all just small aspects of the master plan of female domination. The UPA government wants to destroy India by destroying its culture and paving the way for western culture and imperialism. Corruption is also a big issue that is encouraging these laws. The author needs to understand that the National Commission For Women is very largely responsible for the plight of today’s men in India. It is high time men wake up and unite and fight to the finish these nasty feminists who misuse the laws. We desperately need a National Commission For Men, All States Should Have Men’s commission and a Union Ministry For Men.

I don’t agree with the author that strong laws are needed for protection of women. The problem is with implementation and not how strong laws are. The stronger a law is; the great the misuse.

The falsely accused are presumed guilty of dowry harassment until proven innocent after 6-8 years of expensive litigation by the slow paced legal system in India. It doesn’t just end there for the falsely accused. While it is praiseworthy that the police act comparatively quickly in tracing and arresting the accused, most of those arrested, whose names the media has readily released, have no involvement in the dastardly acts. But the damage has already been done. The falsely accused family has to live with a ‘dowry harassment’ tag for the rest of their life. The family faces abuses from neighbors and avoidance by the community, friends and relatives. Many working members of the family are sacked by their employers following the arrest, the falsely accused in-laws and even husbands commit suicide.
Men’s organizations and rights groups may cry foul over the arrests and suicides, complaining that the detentions without evidence are ‘illegal’ and a violation of human rights but nobody cares. Indian law requires detainees to be provided a legal counsel and brought before a magistrate within 24 hours, which does not happen in most cases. There is no denying that the lawyers, police and women’s cell profits (at the expense of the falsely accused families) and the woman behind the false accusations (who are using the complaint to teach the husband/in-laws a lesson and for the purpose of extortion) are easily able to hide behind the wives’ unions and their ministry’s claim that women (wives) do not lie and the women in the falsely accused husband’s family (nieces, sisters, mothers, grandmothers and even great grandmothers) cannot be treated as women.

Posted by Sant Frank | Report as abusive

This is sad. I know cases, wherein the man had to part with his hard earned property and pay allowances to his wife after the divorce, even though the wife was earning more than him. The Indian legal system should really think of balancing the laws, especially when they are misplaced and misused.

Very well written and truth aptly presented in its form. Yes dowry laws of late have become a great menace to India marriages, not because dowry related torture is prevalent, but because unscrupulous and criminal minded women have started misusing this provision in large volumes. 98 % of cases are false, and that too comes from a government
56, 000 married men are committing suicide every year. 1, 20, 000 women are arrested without trial / investigation.

Such laws are very much needed in India where women have been tortured since centuries.

We welcome NCW’s proposal to make the laws even stricter. It is only then that Indian men will learn how to behave with woman

Posted by Shruti | Report as abusive

I am a victim of 498A – why? I live in the US, my house is the most expensive one in my neighborhood, I have 2 cars, and a stable job for the next 5 years. Did I ask for dowry? I earn in dollars, will I ask for rupees? My father is a rich businessman for years, and my mother is a respected housewife. We all are charged with this atrocious law. Did we ask for dowry? She was forcibly married to me by her parents, and she left me after 10 days. Did we torture her?
She has filed cases because I exposed her pre-marital affairs to the world, and now she wants revenge and sympathy from her family to stay with them.
Can anyone explain what has dowry got to do with my case?

Posted by Abbas Lilamwala | Report as abusive

Is dowry a bad word? Do you expect a women walk out of her parental home naked? Do not the parents of the girl Gift something for her?
Is not demanding wife share of property a Crime as per SC?

A law to eliminate a misuse of DOWRY is misused toystem in India destroy Family

yes torturing wife, and wife beating even not for dowry is wrong. It is as wrong as misusing a Law. (8% ends in aquital is nothing but a sign of GROSS MISUsE to extort money

Posted by Suresh | Report as abusive

Indian middle class women are highly misusing this law. to take revenge and they get money for misusing he law and harassing the husband.In india it is rarest of rare case where police with human face. So implementing the the law in genuine case is day dream here

Posted by kiran | Report as abusive

It is being misused by most of the woman who are filing these cases. This is horrible. If this continues, people won’t be interested in getting married. If a woman, who filed case, thinks she is being tortured by her husband and his family how come later they are ready to take some money and withdraw cases. If they feel they are right, they have to fight until end. All these cases are bogus and a way to get FREE money. Wake up !!!!

Posted by Sree | Report as abusive

Ashima,

I agree all laws are misused. However, which other Indian law misuse has led to arrest of 1,15,645 women in India?

Thats right. 1,15,645 mothers and sisters of men are arrested in last 4 years without investigation or evidence or trial. Which other law puts people behind jail?

Next, How are women the weaker sex? Three times more men die from suicides, murders and accidents. The stronger sex should have less misery and hence less deaths. If men are favoured in a society, then why they have more misery.

Source: ncrb.nic.in

Posted by Sumanth | Report as abusive

An Indian friend resident in the US found, after he got married, that his Indian wife was a violent alcoholic who not only physically attacked him several times, but also tried to set the house on fire and repeatedly threatened to kill him with a knife while he slept.

My friend hesitated a long time before going to the police because he could not stand the humiliation of being a physically abused husband. The US courts and police acted very promptly and granted him a restraining order which said if his wife – who he proceeded to divorce – came within a certain distance of him she would be arrested.

The lady then gave up her excellent job in the US, returned to India, registered a case against his family including his aged parents for demanding dowry and harassing her. Without ANY investigation whatsoever, his family was arrested and jailed, then released on bail. They showed the various US documents to the Delhi High Court, which paid no attention to the papers and said they were not obligated to follow a US court in the matter.

Seeing as my friend is extremely well-off thanks to his job in the US and family property in India, and seeing as the lady herself had her own money due to her good job, and that she was brought up in the US and had several “relationships” before marrying my friend, and seeing as they lived in the US and that only a ceremony was performed in India, I am unable to understand what jurisdiction the Indian courts have over the matter to begin with, and how in good conscience they can simply ignore the documented history of violence inflicted by the lady on the husband.

The only advice the court had to give his family – unofficially, of course – is that his family negotiate with the lady and pay her off. In other words, the court is saying that regardless of the merits of the matter, his family will be found guilty. The Delhi High Court is not some sham 3rd World failed state local court: it is the supreme court of Delhi State, works with reasonable efficiency (for India), and has highly qualified judges. If this is the attitude the DHC takes, what chance for a wrongly accused family in a local court in a distant state.

Meanwhile, my friend cannot visit India for fear of arrest and the case in India continues. He is painfully trying to rebuild his life in the US.

I have lived in India 20 years as an adult and can testify first hand of the cruelty inflicted on Indian women for centuries, if not millenia. So is the solution to now misuse the very powerful criminal justice system to inflict complete injustice on men?

By all means let guilty men be punished. But Indian feminists would do better for their cause if they would stand up against misuse of the law. All cases should be judged on the facts.

In the US, in matters of sexual abuse of children, the adult is always treated as guilty and the judicial process reverses, the adult has to prove themselves innocent, not the state prove them guilty. This is an immense perversion of justice. So does India want to follow US precedent, this time in the matter of marriages.

My own cousin, now long deceased, married a very good man under false pretenses and at the first opportunity left him. Her object was simply to get away from her parents, and she brought no cases against her husband. He asked his about-to-become former in laws for a list of all gifts they/friends had given – and the gifts were many and costly. With the exception of a gold chain and one pillow, neither of which he could locate and likely in the possession of my cousin without her realizing it, he returned every item, every rupee.

Not all men are devils. And not all women are angels.

Here comes the hipocracy as usual by the Indian male. Having misused the the money given to the bride in good faith by her father ( read Manu samhitha) for centuries now the poor Indian male cries “wolf”. Somehow it has been ok for males to expect ” gifts” and “dowry” whihc is the hard earned money by the girls father to be given to them as the male does not have the capacity to earn his own money and look after his own family. Yet when a small number of false cases get registerd all hell breaks lose. Why did the dowry laws come into place in the first place? Would there have been a need for this law if the Indian males were truely committed to the real true marriage? and not expect someones elses money to be given to them for no good reason other than the fact that he got married to continue the liniage of his family. If Indian male understood the meaning of love and marraige and developed some back bone to reject dowry and acted with a sence of decency then this would exist would it? How many US NRI grooms have not played with white girls prior to being the “goody goody” son of the parents and then marrying Indian girls to please his parents. How many Indian men dont play on the side even after the marriage? Whihc lala land are you guys living in? Truth is when courts hold mirror to the weak pathetic Indian male who has no independent thinking and relys on his parents to think for him then the face in that mirror looks very ugly isnt it? Stop the nonsense and if you really want the laws to work properly set an eg by thinking independently and not acting like 30 year olds in diapers. Grow up.

Posted by SV Nagappa | Report as abusive

- Anti Dowry Laws are being seriously misused. There is NO denying the fact.

- While the Government tried to turn a blind eye, sections of the present govt. are on the receiving end – e.g. with A Union Cabinet minister like Mr. Arjun Singh being “accused” as criminals under sec 498a of IPC

- The law meant to protect the “illiterate” , “rural”, hapless woman are being rampantly misused by the “educated”, “Urban” , “upwardly mobile” female

- elders and children are the worst affected

- India has little or NO social security for elders, Govt does not provide quality health care, govt does NOT spend on old age homes. Parents staying with children is a custom more than 2000 years old. Now these very elders who have sacrificed everything for their children’s education are thrown out of the house by the “upwardly mobile” daughter in law

- Elders, especially women are arrested to EXTRACT money from men

- ANY male or a relative of a MALE may be arrested under sec 498a or stripped of his house under the DV act

regards
vinayak

Nagappa,

See, it all looks hypocrisy till it happens to you and your family. When you or your family or extended family get a non-bailable warrant, then you will come running to saveindianfamily.

It is Supreme Court of India, which said, women are crying “wolf” with false dowry cases and Supreme court said, “Dowry law is a shield, not an assassin’s weapon” in July 2005.

Now, you are ignorant in diapers who does not know whats going on in the world. Do not say, you are bigger than Supreme Court.

Secondly, if you are such a big opposer of dowry system, what the hell have you done till now as Arjun Singh, who is accused of demanding dowry is still a minister in Union cabinet?

By the way, a woman who files dowry case today is royally screwed if the husband joins men’s rights organisation. Go to youtube and search for dowry laws or 498a and you will see how females are getting screwed after harassing the husband.

Today, men are going to jail for 1 day happily. Then they get ready to fight till suppreme court and neither take her back nor give her divorce. There are females that I know, who plead the husband to take her back, but who wants a poisonous snake.

What is the Indian word for Dowry in Manu Samhita?

Dahej is an Arabic word.

It is western laws in India which denied a woman’s right to inheritance (from her parents). Let me ask why? If father has 10 acres of land and he has a son and daughter, will give write 5 acres in his daughter’s name once he is old.

Indian parents will keep bidding for NRIs till the time girls want a big size, money, high status and high salary groom. A girl’s father is made to feel guilty if he allows his daughter to marry his daughter to a guy who is socially or economically below him.

It is American conspiracy to defame India that dowry stories are being propagated. Dowry deaths and bride burning are global hoaxes.

How?

In 2006, 55,000 married men committed suicide compared to only 28,000 women. Only 7990 women were murdered to compared to 26,500 men.

The conviction rate in dowry cases is just 2%. Because, 98% cases are false. The real victims of dowry harassment do not go to police.

It is Indian males who think they are the only good guys and all other men are morons. So, men do not seek to know about these laws, till they get into a false case. But, then it is too late when they come crying.

I am a founder of SaveIndianFamilyFoundation and I counsel every weekend to men and women who face false dowry cases in Bangalore for free. I am a Techie.

The first think I ask men as they come to us,”why did not you come to us before marriage?”

He will say,” I did not know about it or I never thought it will happen to me as I never took dowry.”

I say,”yes, exactly. All along you thought we are bunch of Diaper wearing morons. Now, when your bum is one fire, you come to us. Do you see that you are responsible for the misery to your old and sick parents? By not being aware of these laws, you allowed your wife to run away with your passport and certificates. Do you see, your overconfidence is what that did you in.”

Then I say,”Ok, now that you are screwed, now the only way is not to try to run away and fight the case and do not give divorce and forget about another marriage for 10 years.”

In 3 months, we turn the guys around. We have 15,000 members and in Yahoogroup saveindianfamily we have 3500 members.

If the bloody dowry law is so great and the misuse is so rare, then why the dowry is still there is society in spite of arresting and jailing 1,15,645 women and some 4 lac men in last 4 years alone (without trial or evidence)?

I again pray, all men who think we are a bunch of idiots, deserve “false cases” of dowry harassment and they and their unmarried sisters spend 2 days in jail even while not taking dowry.

The feminists have poisoned the Indian minds. Even road accidents are coloured as dowry deaths.

We pray the sex starved males who think other men as their enemies must face false cases.

If we do not campaign against the laws, it is certain that every single family or their relatives in India will face dowry cases in next 20 years. Now, in every year 20 lac people are facing false cases or are threatened of false cases as they run around courts. So, everyone’s number will come.

It is the conspiracy of US and UN to present India as a violent country. The feminists from US and UN claim that 25,000 women are killed or miamed for dowry every year. They have no data from any source and yet they do this false propaganda. UN says, 70% of Indian women face domestic violence, a lie again as they never did a study. Washington times gave apology after we screwed them by mails and letters.

A woman has 2 times more chance to get killed by husband/his relative in US than in India. This is from FBI stats and Indian crime bureau stats. How many people know this? We are defamed world wide as dowry murderers.

source: ncrb.nic.in

Today, some corporates in Bangalore are recruiting only women as some feminists occupy top positions. That is what the diaper wearing men deserve. When diversity, false workplace harassment cases, false dowry cases even when the guy is not married to his colleague happen, the sex starved males of India will wake up.

It is women who are supporting “men’s rights” than men themselves. 90% of our articles are in media are covered by female journalists because the male journalists get happy when another males wife screws her husband.

So, Indian men, the overconfident fools who refuse to wake up deserve false cases.

To Author Rituparna:
====================

Your friend also deserved to face what he is facing. Because, till he was married, he must have been thinking that all other males are diaper wearing “dowry takers” and did nothing to question the laws. Today, he risks his , his family’s lives and also runs a risk of losing lot of money through greedy lawyers.

Foolish Indian Men need draconian laws. I should prey Govt should create some more draconian laws to screw men. Once, all men pay a big price, only then they will wake up.

The conviction rate is 2% in dowry cases.

Posted by Sumanth | Report as abusive

YEAH THESE LAWS R DRACONIAN LAWS MADE FOR RUINING FAMILY LIFES EACH HOUSE HAS A DIFF STORY BUT IF A CLEVER WOMEN IS WELL WARE OF THIS LAW THEN THE WHOLE FAMULY CAN BE BEHIND BARS WOTHOU ANY ISSUE THERE HAS TO BE A SERIOUS FIGHT UNLESS THESE LAWS RR CHANGED OR MANY FAMILIES WOULD GET RUINES I M A VICTI OF THIS LAW I LOST MY FATHER.
KUMAR

Posted by KUMAR | Report as abusive

Are India’s anti-dowry laws a trap for urban males?
—– The topic shows narrow mindness of the writer. Why males? and why not women?
—— Don’t you know that in last 4 years more than 1,20,000 women have been arrested in false 498a cases that too without investigation and you are writing about males?
—— 498a is not only bad for men but also for women.
—– Do you know how many children have become fatherless due to 498a?

498a is not againt men but againt mankind.

We will kill feminism one day………….for arresting our innocent mothers and sisters. Let WCD and NCW know this…….

Posted by Ram Balak | Report as abusive

Very well written indeed!
In numrous families known to me, the same thing happens..in one of the cases the whole family of the bridegroom was put behind bars..the old age grandmother wasn’t spared either..
One of the main culprits in promoting these tactics used by “urban women” are our very own Saas Bahu Dramas on TV.. one does get to see a variety of such crap in these serials..
High time now a group comes forward and files a PIL against this section..
Otherwise that time isn’t far when a guy’s family simultaneously takes an anticipatory bail when they get the marriage registered!!

Posted by A. Kalra | Report as abusive

I think it is easier: DO NOT MARRY IN THE FIRST PLACE

Posted by filer | Report as abusive

This article is a real eye-opener for me. I had read countless stories of victimization of the bride and her family and thought stronger pro-women laws was the answer. More or Stronger laws aren’t going to protect those intended to be protected unless the rural/not-so sophisticated women and their birth families are taught “the-ropes”. The feminist movement should be using their funds in doing just this, instead of agitating for more laws, they are only going to be used/miused by the urban sophisticates.
Don’t blame “the Indian male” for all what is wrong with the dowry system, remember the bride’s mother-in-law and sisters-in-law are invariably female. Often these females are the perpetrators of the harassment. Whenever the husband harasses it is at the behest of his mother or sibling. The mother of the groom expects compensation for the dowry her own parents had to pay from her son’s in-laws and his sisters hope to collect funds for their own dowry.

Posted by eesan | Report as abusive

I thought I never would live to see the day when I could have the pleasure of seeing grown up men cry. But thanks to you, hordes of men seem to have opened up the floodgates of pent up emotions(err..frustrations), just for you !

Having lived quite a sheltered life and almost always having been told that “Ah but its okay for a man to behave like that, you can’t”, I was shocked to know that men think otherwise. I still remember a colleague cribbing about the fact that he had to keep longer hours in office while “you women” can do what you want. The poor guy still doesn’t have the guts to look at me in the eye after I called him a revamped chauvinist (I also pointed out that he stayed longer hours just to please his boss) three years ago.

Well anyway, welcome to this new age, where its we women who hold the cards, and make our own rules. I’m glad that this time its the men too who think the same, and are crying out loud for mercy (and justice?).

Wow, that feels good… (I hope it lasts, though).

Posted by suvasree | Report as abusive

Suvasree,

I hope you do not have a brother or a son.

What you fail to realise is that if tomorrow your brother’s wife puts a false dowry case on your family, then you will also spend couple of days in jail.

Moreover, I see that you have an inherent hatred for males. I do not blame you. Women like you are brainwashed by radical feminists. There is no difference between you and MCPs. You are as chauvinistic as a MCP.

What you failed to understand is that men have built a solid “men’s rights” movement in just 3 years to counter womens movement. They have 15 centres around India and they are gearing up for a long fight in the area of Child Custody, No maintenance, gender neutral laws and they have now garnered enough support inside the system. The men’s rights organisations are able to stop many of laws for women including “Harassment at workplace” law.

The backlash is severe. If feminists continue their chauvinistic ways, soon the entire women’s movement will lose its credibility and no one will trust Indian women (any women).

Posted by Sumanth | Report as abusive

The Article is well written & you should be commended for it. SEC.498-A has been totally abused by the Wife.Matrimony is going to dogs & the Judiciary is just sleeping.The biggest perpetrators are NCW chief Girija Vyas & WCD minister Renuka Chowdhary. 498-A & D.V. cases are a Big business in our Country as Crores of amount are asked by the Police,Lawyers & even some Magistrates and their Touts as well.

Facts to make every Indian ashamed:

1. Indian men contribute 82% of the taxes to the government;still there is no ministry for men welfare in this nation.(There is a ministry for women,there is a ministry for children,there is a ministry for animals – so men are treated worse than animals).
2. Adultery is not a crime for women.Women are legally authorized to have multiple partners even after marriage.While a man can be sent to jail for an extra-marital relationship.(IPC 497)
3. In the last 4 yrs,more than 1,15,000 women have been arrested under false dowry cases.(The total number of innocent people arrested just last year is 225,000).For your information-just a wife’s statement is enough to send the whole husband’s family to jail (no proof required).

Also,an interesting fact is that 98% of the dowry cases filed is false (Research conducted by CISR).

More than 48% of the trials that started in the last 12 months were matrimonial disputes.And all these matrimonial disputes are dealt in the criminal courts. So,all the government money of India is spent on troubling husbands.

THIS HAPPENS ONLY IN INDIA. WE should be Proud to be an INDIAN.

Posted by Haresh Advani | Report as abusive

Indeed husband bashers are a rare species and women “torturing” men for money is equally rare…but men bashing women esp in India is so common that it is almost accepted as something “normal” for many many years.

But if women are “bashing” men now or are harassing them to a point that these men might have no other choice but to commit suicide (like many women do in such situations) then this needs to be looked into.

For gentlemen the law is meant to protect the weak…and anyone who is weak – man or woman – certainly deserves to be protected.

What amazes me is that while there are so many logged in here to protest about women badgering guys, how come every time a woman is burnt or thrown out of her house there is hardly any man who comes forward to take up the cause??

The right to live with dignity and without fear is not a male perogative…

Issue of Dowry is closely related to human rights and individual freedom. In India a man and woman has to compulsorily marry to live a meaningful life with social respect, personal and psychological welfare and even religious advantages. When one gets wedded and when one cannot get out of marriage easily when one finds it not his/her cup of tea is the worst of it all.
I look back and ask myself why i married. I find that as a bachelor I lived for 30 years and was drowning in social isolation and loneliness. No women would come close or become my friend and I had not known what is love, romance or sex from any women throughout my bachelorhood. Women kept distance because they knew that that would make them more worthy of married life. May be I cannot blame them. A women has to catch a man and keep him with her to provide her money and security in life. There is always a chance that a man makes her pregnant and then push off to marry another without lending for the child’s upbringing. So marriage in India is a lifelong trap from which it is inescapable.
But consider a society where one can live without getting into marriage and gets all the advantages of being married, including love, friendship with opposite gender, sex, monetory security, security in old age and everything. Then marriage will be a matter of choice for individuals and not a matter of compulsion as is at present. When it is done in compulsion, meaning a person gets into marriage because he does not get friendship of opposite gender and the emotional advantages associated with it and also that his old age will be taken care of by many governmental programs and the society etc. he need not get married. Also if such a security is available one can walk out of marriage without getting into fight with the partner over dowry or anything and live independently in the society or as he/she wish. Now an individual in India finds it difficult to live without marriage and also to walk out of marriage and live comfortably in the society. Why should a female suffer if her husband /in laws harass her of dowry. Just walk out of the family. Can a female in India do that at present. True woman liberation comes only when she is freed from the bonds of those who are supposed to give her protection and security. Her security should come from the society not from individuals; otherwise the dependency will lead to conflicts and violence. Without economic and social independency there is no freedom for an individual.
i must also say that, from my experience, all women are not week; and many a times they are much stronger than men around her. Just like in the case of any person the strength in modern age comes from support of people around us, strength provided by the laws, and strength of money. There are many women who have any or all of these. If a women shouts or cries there would be so many people who will come to support her, particularly if she is good looking or rich. Many women in the poor families suffer because of dependency on husbands. Otherwise they can easily manage. Our society is forcing the concept of ‘father’ on everybody. if you take your child to school, or apply for job or passport you have to provide the name of your father. This itself is embarassing to any female who chose to bring up her child herself for some reason; this make her again dependent on someone even if she does not like him..
We must learn to address our social problems from a bold perspective rather than simple solutions like punishment for wrong doing etc..
Sreekumar

Gone are the days where domestic violence means suffering of women. Now, it is true in reverse. There are several people who silently suffer the daily dose from their homemakers.

I’m really surprised at to how men cry foul when faced with 498-A. Amazingly the same men never see any wrong doing when a man ill-treats his wife, verbally or physically abuses her, hinders her growth and keeps her confined within the four walls (this happens today too), not caring at all about her emotions. Of course it is to be expected by women to compromise, as it is the most desirable virtue. Its okay to be abused by your husband, isn’t it! I have been a witness to abuse by a man to his newly-wed highly educated wife. He himself is an engineer from one of the prominent engineering colleges. I have seen him getting hostile to her in front of all, reason could be anything from a shirt with no-sleeves, his parent-induced believes of how a woman should only eat after her husband, her inability to find a job within 2 months of marriage in a new country, and a job which should be not better paying than his job..And actually using the worst posible words on her in public and beating her too. It is many times very difficult for a woman to prove her point, as society says “women have to tolerate” After all they are supposed to carry the burden of family on their shoulders without asking for anything in return. The man-made naari ke kartavya!!!
If she cannot take it anymore she has to be heard and that’s how 498-A helps her.
I think all those guys who cry over the misuse of law (there of course is misuse too) have never seen a woman family or friend suffer…
Its time Indian men started treating a wife as equal. And with respect. High time they gave up on the idea of a wife as free access to sex, as a cook and a free servant. Period.

Posted by Preeti | Report as abusive

To all,
When I wrote this blog post it was in the hope that it will start a public debate on some controversial Indian anti-dowry legislations that are increasingly being misused by a certain section of society to hold a man and his family at ransom when a marriage disintegrates for various reasons. I believe the women who truly and desperately need the shield of these laws do not have access to them. Feminists are looked upon by some men as creatures from hell, out there to ruin their happiness. But are we not defeating the purpose of this debate when we promote radical male activism? The weak, of whatever gender, caste or religion, need protection. I am deeply moved and thankful to those of you who shared their personal stories on the comments section as victims of IPC-498A, DPA and DVA. This isn’t a male vs female argument. It is high time the govenment reviewed these laws, especially IPC-498A and DPA, to keep pace with changing social structures. Police should conduct proper investigation before making an arrest, the burden of proof of innocence should not necessarily rest with the accused and there should be strict penalties for filing a false case under IPC-498A. The Ministry of Women and Child Development has sought comments from the general public on review of certain laws affecting women and the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 is one of them. You can send in your feedback to the ministry at secy.wcd@nic.in
Regards,

Posted by Rituparna Bhowmik | Report as abusive

Its a really good article Ritu, you have opened our eyes..keep it up!!

Posted by ONP | Report as abusive

Since last 1 year i’m suffering. I’ve not taken a single rupee as dowry. But i went to Jail with a false case. I’m not at sattisfied with this law.

Posted by Saroj | Report as abusive

Rituparna, Thank you for this interesting and enlightening articles. I have also read the posted comments with great interest. I have to applaud the readers for generally refraining from gender bashing. It is true that we have a huge problem in India and abroad with abuse of women. I totally understand the need to protect the women from abusive partners.
However, no law can truly be effective if it marginlizes the rights of the accused. It is incumbent on the Police to thoroughly investigate the situation before apprehending anyone. That is the crux of the problem, the willingness and ability of the law enforcement to follow up on these complaints in a judicious manner. A battered women or a abused husband deserve equal protection for us to truly address these injustices.
The usage of these laws as a form of extortion from grooms is as bad as failure to implement the law to protect the battered wives.
I am going through a similar situation whereby I cannot visit my home in India because of the similar fears. It is very troubling and disconcerting to know that you have very limited rights or forums to fight these allegations. Leaving my issues aside, I think it would be highly beneficial for Indian society to have a truly transparent system where equal rights for all parties are guaranteed and enforced. That will be the first step in moving our society in the right direction on the issues of dowlry and extortion.

Posted by Sanjeev Kumar | Report as abusive

At last, something sensible on this most divisive topic.

Posted by GB | Report as abusive

There are a good number of reasons that law exists. However if you look at the wordings for harassment, the assumption that only women are harassed is very wrong. it is a gender biased law. the womens groups fail to build a good law by only protecting the “women” and not the “harassed” which is gender neutral. Everybody now knows a family now that has been harassed in the cities. my relative had a poster of this law stuck on the wall of the living room when we asked, why his child was being brought up in the girls parents house. When will the womens groups learn that the “weak and powerless” need to be empowered and not “women”. the same law that protects women, harasses men. great job. there is not a simple womens group person who is willing or able to see that simple difference in fear of making their power diluted.

Posted by Prashant | Report as abusive

Hello Shruti
Well said “It is only then that “Indian men” will learn how to behave with woman”.

I think men are misbehaving with you everyday which is very sad. I pity on your condition. I think you don’t even have separate queues for ladies at movie theaters in your city.
You should think twice before making such a strong statement about “Indian men”.

Posted by Niranjan | Report as abusive

This is completely true that people who actually need the protection that the law provides, are not able to access the benifits of this law. Instead unworthy women take the fullest advantage of it. This they do by the way of threatening men to yield to their unjust requests. There is always a good side and a bad side of a law. It is upto the the people to take in what is actually wanted out of the law. Women residing in unpriviledged ares are the most tortured ones who need protection by this law. But unfortunately the law is not completely implemented in those areas. there are genuine cases where the woman is tortured for dowry and the law has protected them. but there are also false cases. It is the duty of us, the police, and the government to see who actuallu has suffered harrassment before giving any punishment to the accused.

Posted by Pallavi | Report as abusive

There is frankly no statistical basis for why the law exists except for the purpose of harassment and extortion of money from the husband. Every case there is demand of money from the range of 5 Lakhs to 50 lakhs and sometimes even more from the husbands side.

I mean I never saw a husband demanding money but wife demanding money either in courts , in police , in media is quite common .

A well written blog which leave which definitely points out some of the hardships being faced by males. I can understand that fairer sex in the country has to suffer in various places especially in rural areas but that does not mean that men in urban areas bear the brunt. I would never suggest that there should be no check on male atrocities but at least apply some brain when this draconian law, which is no less than POTA or TADA, is applied. This gives a call for the judiciary as well to give a serious thought before holding any one guilty. And lets gear up and ask political parties to put its abolition on their manifesto…cheers to the blog writer

Posted by P.Singh | Report as abusive

It is more often the not the case in India. All
well-intentioned laws are flipped and twisted to suit the malicious interests of many. So be it the Anti-Dowry Laws or reservation for the backward communities…It seems as if we wait to torture a certain till such extents that there will be laws to protect the same and then we land up exploiting the rule books and walk happily to the bank.

There are theories of canonisation and marginalisation and neo-colonisation. In India, we apparently believe in marginalising the same theories and laws to marginalise someone else and building our homes on their ruins! how else do we explain how we live our lives remorselessly when things aint right? because we know its a rubber nation and everything is of twistable nature! Even when it burns, it emits a stench!

Posted by Sutapa | Report as abusive

A great article again, Ritu!

Posted by Sutapa | Report as abusive

People, I have read this thread with a lot of interest and a growing sense of awe at the widely divergent perceptions on this law. First, let me make it clear that I am not in any trouble as far as the anti-dowry law is concerned. That said, I take exception to both the virulently pro-male and pro-female factions. Guys, get real – there are NO absolute blacks and whites in life ; there are only shades of gray. Let us take a dis-passionate look at this law. First off, Nature (or God, if you prefer) does not allow unboundedness. Every thing, action, force MUST have a limit/boundary. Also, balance is the MOST essential ingredient to stability. In the case of the Dowry Act, the rationale was and is very valid. There ARE large numbers of women out there who face this blight day in and day out. They are humiliated, tortured and beaten up. A number of them are killed too, for not bringing enough dowry. But, Reena, you being a woman yourself, please tell me, in today’s world, what proportion of women would tolerate this thing, especially in the urban scenario? For God’s sake, most newly-married couples move into separate homes withing days of the marriage. The nuclear family does not lend itself to this leverage or pressure tactics. However, what you say is also correct, that the incidence is more in rural areas where the traditional ways still hold sway.
But ask yourself, how many rural women are being benefited by this law? How many of them leave their homes and come out and expose this sin? Very few because they are still held by their chains. So, this law is not helping them much. Come, now, to the urban woman. Unfortunately, though a number of you may disagree with me on this, the urban woman has started using this law as a weapon of not only pre-emptive strike but also of blackmail and extortion. Mind you, I am not saying that ALL the cases filed are false; the statistic of 98% dismissal of cases does NOT mean that there was no truth in them – it just means that either the case was not pursued or it was not provable OR it was false.
Ladies and gentlemen, please understand that in the absence of checks and balances, ANYTHING can be misused and will be. So the point is not whether the law is good or bad but whether its implementation has sufficient checks and balances to resist abuse or not. I, personally, have seen a family destroyed by a strong-headed woman who wanted unquestioned control and authority but I have also seen a beautiful, young lady drugged and killed by her greedy husband and mother-in-law. However, a word of caution: Let us not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Phew! That was a long one ;0)

Posted by GeekyRaptor | Report as abusive

498A should be removed and it’s against Men. Without any evidence/investigations, how come law should arrest anybody in this case. This is a gender biased law, should be removed and lot of false complaints are registered as per report given by National Crime Bureau.

Wow–does anyone stop to wonder what the situation would’ve been had 498A not been around? Which damned law in India is not being misused? Does anyone ever complain about those?

Dowry is wrong to start with–how can it be that a woman is not valuable by herself, but that she is only marriage worthy if she has a price attached? And yes, taking advantage of anti-dowry laws is wrong, and a corrupt legal system is deplorable.

But, because a fraction of women in the mid-upper strata of society are exploiting dowry laws, should laws that could potentially protect hapless women be eliminated? Perspective folks, perspective.

We need to find ways to deal with those who misuse the laws, not rid society of laws it desperately needs.

Posted by AF | Report as abusive

As I am undergoing this issue in court. I could know the harassment and other pains of this 498 act. From my personal experience few aspects I have noticed are given below:
- Law is made according to concentrating to age old Indian women.
- Law is not fit for Indian culture.
-The law is totally biased and that do not give humanity to men and his parents.
- This law has become to act as a gangster (gonda) and most of women lawyers use it.
- No humanity concerns.
- Law is looking only the problems of women.
- Men loose faith in judiciary
- No one is born criminals but these types of laws make men as criminals
- This law grooms criminals
- There is no freedom for fathers to give companionship and affection to their children especially to their daughters.
- A money making law for women.
- A mental torture, harassment and pain for innocent men
- Even if the wife goes to prostitution or illegal actives in the absence of evidence the court gives the child custody to such women.
I hope there are lots of demerits that can be pointed out from this law. From my personal experience I am hardly able to see my only daughter and once myself and my parents had got chance to be with my daughter in court premises. The other side even put sexual allegations with me and my 2 year old daughter. This is the law of Great India.

Great Modern India – From a lay man view…

Rules are made for the rulers to rule,
Laws are made by lawyers to earn and grow,
Those British rules exploited the Indians,
Still continues the same,
Indians exploiting Indians,
Making laymen like slaves and beggars,
criminals are nourished
innocents are punished
this is law the trustworthy law,
Money can buy these laws,
influence can change these laws
Others can bear these laws
Courts are like MNCs
One who invests more is free as emperor,
Those who react to all these odds,
their mouths are shut up, prisons are for them
may be executed forever,
Oh God, only you can save my country and my people
(This is purely outcome of my personal experience with law and rule never I intend to harm anyone )

With lots of pain…
Saly.(email – melting_blood@yahoo.com)

Posted by Saly | Report as abusive

Tommorrow’s Great India – If this law goes on and tommorrow every wife in India just can hang anybody or everybody of her husbands with her words. I wish every feminists will know this until their sons or their brother or fathers gets held up with such law. May be not Indian feminists as they are far cruel to understand what is humanity. THANK GOD – WHO DID NOT CREATE WOMEN PSYCHICALLY AS STRONG AS MEN – IF THEY ARE MADE SO I AM SURE NO MEN WILL BE ALIVE.

Posted by Saly | Report as abusive

Why men suffer?More often than not this question has perturbed my mind and ever since I got involved in men’s rights activism, fighting for men’s rights, creating awareness about men’s issues and problems and interacted with abused and victimized men, my understanding of the answer to the above question has improved tremendously and today I am going to write about the same in this article.

Before we delve into the reasons as to why men suffer, it is pertinent to talk about “How Men Suffer?”

It is important to understand how men suffer because the current social understanding about suffering of men is largely undercover. In fact, even after 8 years since the establishment of the men’s rights movement in India and after umpteen presences in the media, by and large, the society is still oblivious to the problems that are faced by men. Even, if sometimes people are aware that the man is suffering, they have nothing to offer to the man. And this is again a reflection of poor understanding of the male psyche and male emotions.

Some of the common forms of abuse of men are,

1. Forced to earn manhood: Boys are taught to be ruthless and cruel to other men, view them as competitors but have a soft corner for women. Even our social constructs are so designed that a man must earn his manhood while a woman gets her womanhood by default because of her gender. That’s the reason we see dialogues like “Respect me because I am a woman”, “You are not a man if…….”, “You are not a man unless you……”, “Be a man”, “Take it like a man” etc.

2. Conditioned to be inferior: Boys are socially conditioned to believe that in general the male gender is inferior to women and that a man’s life is incomplete without a woman. They are conditioned to believe that it is OK to demean their own gender; in fact they are made to feel proud about that.

3. Made to suppress: Boys are encouraged to suppress their emotions/pains/sufferings and as they grow up, the language that takes shape in their minds is – “It is unmanly for me to complain”.

4. Economic abuse: This is the most common form of abuse that men are subjected to. It’s been a social tradition to expect men to earn money through hard-work and then others should enjoy it. In fact, men who spend their own hard money for themselves are ridiculed and those who spend it for their family are hailed even though the family is abusive towards the man. Every new anti-male law that is proposed is based on the premise that it is the right of the woman on the man’s money.

5. Emotional abuse: Men face a lot of emotional abuse which often goes unnoticed because of the high expectations from the society and the emotional suppression that they face since childhood.

6. Abuse in Marriages: Marriages are tumultuous for men. Every year close to double the number of men commit suicides due to abusive and married men top the list of suicides.

7. Legal Abuse: The legal system is highly anti-male. There are more than 15 anti-male, inhuman and unconstitutional gender biased laws which openly flout principles of natural justice and many more are coming in pipeline. Also, the legal system is immune and insensitive to the abuse of a man who is victimized and has nothing more than lip service to offer to them.

8. Social Abuse: Men face social bias. All a man needs to invoke hatred against him is to have a woman complain against him and it does not matter how much bizarre, absurd or illogical the allegations are; social hatred against men (misandry) will ensure that the life of the man is ruined. And such deep is the misandry that even if the man comes out clean; there is no will in the society to punish the liar woman so as to deter other women from repeating the same offense. In fact, abuse of men by society is like a social service.

9. Workplace Bias: Men face bias at workplace as well. Mostly men find it very difficult to get promoted and need to struggle a lot for the same. Most companies hire more women under initiatives like “Diversity” and mostly even if men are as competent as women, they lose out on the job due to such initiatives.

10. Cultural Bias: Abuse of men is not a new fashion; it’s a chronic social disease. Men have always been forced to play violent roles by cultures and societies by participating in wars, taking risks, losing their life and limbs and donning the role of a protector. And this very role of protector goes against men which takes away the right from them to fight for their own selves.

This is just a tip of the iceberg about the various problems which men have been suffering from and are either unaddressed or unrecognized. However, let us now see as to why men suffer so much?

Men suffer because of the following reasons:

1. They don’t share their problems: Men feel it is unmanly for them to share their problems and fearing social backlash and ridicule, they suffer silently.

2. They share their successes more often than their failures: Men are made to feel unmanly when they share their failures with dialogues such as “Dude, you could have handled this much”. Due to this reason and the first one, the problems of the male world rarely surface. All that surfaces is their successes all over which makes the society feel as if it is OK to snatch from men. But, as it is said, “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”, same is with the problems and struggles faced by a man. Merely because men are silent, does not mean they are good to go. It’s just that they are resilient enough to deal with the abuse heaped upon them.

3. The Protector Role of men: Even if they are being attacked from all sides they won’t forego their “protector” role. Even after getting abused by the very society, men find in themselves a fetish to protect culture, protect society, protect country and such high and lofty objectives do not allow them to take up cudgels against the injustice they themselves are being subjected to.

4. Logic of Men: Men are extremely logical and analytical in their approach and thus often they fail to comprehend emotional turbulences and end up getting bruised emotionally. Men have great respect for systems, hierarchies, rules and laws. That is the reason, they somehow think that anti-male laws are fine and they would never be trapped if they don’t do anything wrong and even if that happens, they would use logic to prove their innocence.

5. Internal Misandry: This is the biggest reason why men suffer. Internally men hate each other and have a lot of disrespect for each other. They judge each other a lot and are too quick and active in jumping into action to punish a man against whom a woman complains. That is the reason, even after being victimized, most men do not challenge anti-male social attitudes and anti-male laws because internally they somehow feel, these laws are justified, it’s just that, for them, the anti-male laws should not be “misused”.

The solution to end the suffering of men is very simple. It just depends on certain choices that men need to make.

1. Men must stop disrespecting and hating other men.

2. Men must challenge all such social constructs which force them to earn manhood or suffer abuse because it is considered unmanly to raise voice against it.

3. Men must not view other men as competitors in order to get sex.

4. Men must challenge all forms of anti-male attitudes, laws and media content.

5. Men must understand the importance of “men’s rights”.

Men’s suffering will end if they make the above choices and choice to make these choices also belies with them.

Posted by Masculist | Report as abusive

Dear Ms Bhowmik, there’s absolutely no need of stricter laws. We have plenty. One request though. Please help to pass an order to KILL ALL HUSBANDS charged with 498A. 99% of your problems will be solved through this step. And we won’t have to die every day. Thanks.

Posted by RenSD | Report as abusive

498a is a legal terrorism to extract money until you trapped nobody knows it.

Posted by mallampati | Report as abusive