Protection from Domestic Violence
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Mukesh Pandey, senior IAS official and DM of Buxar was forcibly separated from his 3 month old daughter and subjected to immense mental stress and cruelty by his wife and in-laws.
On 10th of August, 2017, Mukesh’s body was found in pieces on a train track in Ghaziabad. In his suicide note, he mentioned the tremendous mental agony and harassment he suffered at the hands of his wife and in-laws.
As per the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in 2015 alone, 91,528 men committed suicide in India, almost twice the number of women. In this regard, section 498A, also known as the ‘anti-dowry’ law has been a weapon of choice for disgruntled women to harass not only men but their entire families. There are numerous cases in which month old toddlers, old parents, grandmothers and even relatives living abroad were roped in, arrested and put in police remand based on a single unsubstantiated allegation by the wife.
The Supreme Court of India has used the term “Legal Terrorism” to describe the extent of misuse of this law. In 2014, the Supreme Court again observed, ‘the fact that Section 498A is a cognisable and non-bailable offence has lent it a dubious place of pride amongst the provisions that are used as weapons rather than a shield by disgruntled wives’. Huge amounts of alimony and settlements are demanded by disgruntled wives and their families in lieu of taking back complaints. It is in view of this that the Supreme Court recently instituted guidelines to prevent automatic arrests and established suitable safeguards in form of family welfare committees to check for the misuse of this provision.
The root of the problem is the deep seated prejudice and misandry that pervades Indian society. The society as well as the justice system presumes men to be perpetrators and women to be victims at all times. Neither the society nor the judiciary acknowledges that men can be victims of domestic violence and assault. Men who do come out and seek help are slandered and joked about for not being ‘man enough’. There are no redressal mechanisms or legal provisions to help distressed men and their families from vengeful wives and in-laws. There is no option for such men but to commit suicide in order to prove their innocence.
A truly equal society cannot be one which reprimands individuals only because they belong to a particular gender. The law must acknowledge violence in all forms and perpetrators should be punished irrespective of their race, caste, creed or gender. India is one of the few countries where the Domestic Violence law is NOT gender neutral.
Hence, I ask you to support me by signing my petition demanding that the government make the Domestic Violence Law gender neutral and create redressal mechanisms for men and their families who are under distress. Your support would go a long way in ensuring a society that is free of all forms of violence and truly equal, in word and in spirit.
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