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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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