Speech on 1st Conference on National Commission for Men
It was a privilege to speak on the occasion of 1st conference of National Commission for Men, a conference dedicated to seminar for demand of men commission in India in the August presence of Hon’ble Members of Parliament Sh. Harinarayan Rajbhar Ji and Sh. Anshul Verma Ji as well as acclaimed bollywood actress and writer Ms. Pooja Bedi as well as luminaries from legal, medical and social backgrounds.
Following is the reproduction of my speech, which I was to present there, few portions of it was skipped due to paucity of times.
It is accepted norm that women have different problems than a man and many a times they need a distinct treatment at all levels which would give them the support to overcome the various physiological, social, economic, cultural and gender-based differentiation issues. As acknowledgment of the same, the constitution of India gave Article 15(3)- Nothing in this article shall prevent the state from making any special provision for women and children. This has resulted in formation of various women centric laws and creation of special bodies like the National Commission for Women. Also, there have been huge budget allocations for all such commissions and bodies.
And as we can see that though the budgetary allocation is increasing year after year, utlilization of these funds is decreasing year after years. The Finance Minister of India proudly launched a 1000 crore Nirbhaya fund, the sad state is that not even a single rupee from it was used in first year.
Now let us see where does it leave Article 14?
As per Article 14 of the Constitution of India “The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth”
So when we talk of equality, is it not a Human Rights violation when on a mere complaint the entire family of the husband is put behind bars. The courts have decried but did little. These gender-biased laws have been termed as Legal Terrorism and remedies are worse than the perils or disease
This what Delhi HC said in a 498A case “..There is a growing tendency amongst the women which is further perpetuated by their parents and relatives to rope in each and every relative-including minors and even school going kids nearer or distant relatives and in some cases against every person of the family of the husband whether living away or in other town or abroad and married, unmarried sisters, ‘sister-in-laws, unmarried brothers, married uncles and in some cases grand-parents or as many as 10 to 15 or even more relatives of the husband”
This is what Supreme Court said in a 498A case” .. As noted the object is to strike at the roots of dowry menace. But by misuse of the provision a new legal terrorism can be unleashed. The provision is intended to be used a shield and not assassins’ weapon. If cry of “wolf” is made too often as a prank assistance and protection may not be available when the actual “wolf” appears.”
The principles of natural justice are turned upside down in Dowry Death cases. S.304B states “Where the death of a woman is caused by any burns or bodily injury or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven years of her marriage and it is shown that soon before her death she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband for, or in connection with, any demand for dowry, such death shall be called “dowry death”, and such husband or relative shall be deemed to have caused her death. “
The entire edifice of law is broken when the accused is presumed guilty before trial.
Now I ask you a question, you can prove that did a particular thing, but how can you prove that you didn’t do that particular thing?
People who get acquitted in 304B cases are a living proof of the malice of Indian Gender Biased Laws. The lives of such people is broken beyond repair.
And if you think you have heard enough, let me take you through the new sexual crimes definitions. For a lay man rape is a heinous crime and the common understanding would be that when there is forced sex. However, that’s not what the Indian law stipulates. The law on rape gives so many lacunas to a girl like she could have been coerced, intoxicated, threatened, tricked etc. Even oral sex without her CONSENT or WILL falls under the definition of rape.
Every passing day, I am hearing men in physical relationship with women falling into this honeytrap and paying through their nose to ensure that the girl doesn’t trap her into some false rape case or worse… into MARRIAGE.
The times have changed now from the time India gained Independence. Today women are seen misusing their empowered and enhanced social, educational, economic, cultural power and authority and even her legal rights bestowed to then as women for improper ends, harassing men. The venomous force of such lop sided laws has breached walls of Indian families and have now percolated within the society; where in property matters, loan matters, personal enmity to car parking disagreements and even gang wars are being “settled” through the “mis”use of these gender-biased laws.
Now, even if I take the other side of argument that there is a very low percentage of women who actually misuse the law, then also is that minor percentage of men against whom this law is misused be left without a legal remedy?
A study by Thomson Reuters Foundation labelling India as the most unsafe country for women has led to a slugfest in media. People are debating whether India is really the most unsafe country for women? Are women in India more oppressed that war torn Syria, Haiti, Saudi Arabia? But are these countries worth comparing to?
But if you really want to know the reality of India, India probably is the most unsafe country for MEN. Except war-torn countries, where you are in danger of losing your life, India would Top the list of laws misused against men by women.
Let me now take you through my views on how to change current situation
Laws in our country are made by Legislature, i.e. Parliament and State Legislatures. Also, as per Article 141 of The Constitution of India, “Law declared by Supreme Court to be binding on all courts The law declared by the Supreme Court shall be binding on all courts within the territory of India”. This may make an ordinary citizen believe that Law making is a process far beyond their reach. But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, as part of our Constitution, the Preamble states that “WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved … do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.” This means that the people, ordinary people like you and me, give constitution to ourselves and thereby clothe it with all the powers to administer this Great Country. It is to such ordinary people that we address through this endeavor, in form of a conference. Taking a phrase by Margaret Mead “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world.
So is Mens Commission a solution to all the issues faced by men in India. The answer is NO. Lets look at Mens Commision a platform where distressed men, aggrieved men can be provided a sympathetic and empathetic understanding.
Today there is a need for specialized body/commission with due sensitivity and empathy to look into the specific issues faced by Men.
Few of the things which this commission can look into are :
- Investigate and examine all matters relating to the safeguards provided for gender neutral socieity under the Constitution and other law and present annual finding to state and central government.
- Review, from time to time, the existing provisions of the Constitution and other laws and recommend amendments thereto so as to suggest remedial legislative measures to meet any lacunae, inadequacies or shortcomings in such legislations to make a gender neutral society;
- Look into complaints and take suo moto notice of matters relating to—(i) deprivation of men’s rights; (ii) non-implementation of laws enacted to provide gender neutral society and to achieve the objective of equality and development;
- Call for special studies or investigations into specific problems or situations arising out of discrimination against men and identify the constraints so as to recommend strategies for their removal;
- Fund litigation involving issues affecting a large body of men;
- Make periodical reports to the Government on any matter pertaining to men.
- Create awareness on men related diseases and issues related men specific problems.
Also, through this commission we seek following basic amendments in law to start with:
- 304C be added to IPC. On the lines of IPC 304B the same should punish a woman if the husband dies because of other than natural reasons within seven years of marriage. Also, the same section shall punish any woman when a man commits suicide because of false allegations.
- Section 498A of IPC be made bailable and compoundable.
- All marriages as well as expenses incurred in marriage by both parties should be resgistered with SDM. The court shall call these records while deciding all matrimonial litigations.
- Rape Laws should be gender neutral
- Bar of CrPC 195 shall be done away with thus enabling a private party to sue for perjury, false complaint and malicious prosecution.
- Like Bangladesh, dowry law should have safeguards, false complainant be punished.
- Similar safeguard shall be introduced in Rape and Molestation laws, where false complainant be punished.
- Pre-nuptial agreements should be introduced and legalised.
- Shared parenting should be the norm, exception only in cases of child abuse.
- In case of incarceration due to false cases, state shall compensate the man which shall not be less than his One Year earnings.
- All cases related to matrimony and matrimonial offences shall be completed within a period of ONE YEAR.
There are many more things that can be done using this platform, which we today call Mens Commission, but first we have to have a statutory backing to create it. Some friends, I discussed the idea with, were not optimist about any creation of Commission for Men. To them, all I can say is that all big efforts start with a small beginning. One Jasmine brought revolution in middle east throwing monarchy after monarchy. One man ushered the idea of Satyagrah in millions of people and helped fasten exit of Englishmen from our country. We have made this beginning today, lets keep the heat on. Let us keep talking, persuading our choosen representatives to accede to our demands. We have seen two Members of Parliament here today, believe me, there are atleast 100 fence sitters, who in private agree to our demands but does not have the courage to stand with us today. Our frequent reminders and success of this conference would persuade few of them to have a relook.
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