Save Indian Family Men Trapped In False Cases Of Dowry & Domestic Violence Search For Justice
In 2004, Swarup Sarkar and a few other accused in sham cases of dowry and domestic violence joined hands to raise concern against the alarming rate of separation and divorce under laws that a lot of Indian men find not so gender-neutral. The group, Save Indian Family, has entered 40 cities; a large group of Men’s Rights Activists.
A CALL AWAY: Members of the Save Indian Family volunteer group have been fighting to make the Indian marriage laws gender-neutral. Last month, members distributed car stickers in the UT in a promotional campaign
The Delhi and Chandigarh chapters got together to hold its first national meeting in Shimla. The objective was to invite troubled men facing false cases of dowry, domestic violence, and rape to question women-oriented Indian marriage laws. “We were the first organisation to address the elephant in the room,” said Rohit Dogra, one of the trustees of Save Indian Family in Chandigarh. “The group is a movement today.”
MEN IN DISTRESS
What started as Yahoo group Save Indian Family today has more than 30,000 members. Dogra said: “Every day, more men in troubled marriages come to the group to seek assistance and relief, even though only 10% end up joining the movement.” The Chandigarh chapter receives more than 3,000 calls a year from men harassed by partners and facing cases of rape, unnatural offences, breach of trust, or enticing or detaining married women. “The call rate across 40 cities is mind-boggling,” Dogra said.
“We are don’t call ourselves men’s rights activists, for we stand for gender neutrality in laws. The rift in marriages is ripping Indian families apart and the lacunae in the law that are responsible need to be addressed to save Indian society from decline,” Dogra said. They were the first Indian group to highlight that the rate of filing for separation or divorce had shot up in the country.
ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM
The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data suggests that every eight minutes, a man commits suicide because of marital discord or other family problems, while the rate of acquittal exceeds 77% in cases of rape and 88% in matters of dowry. Also, 40% of the acid attack survivors are men. Similarly, boys are survivors in 53% of the cases of sexual assault. The numbers are telling but we fail to acknowledge in the elephant in the room,” said Maninder Singh, another trustee of Save Indian Family.
Maninder has been in the group for six years, since coming over to seek assistance when his wife slapped a dowry case on him. It took him six years to get acquittal. “Earlier, it was instant arrest for married men accused of dowry and domestic violence. Even Supreme Court had called it legal terrorism and issued guidelines to avoid the misuse of law,” he said.
A new provision was made under the Supreme Court ruling in Arnesh Kumar versus State of Bihar. “In cases that do not qualify the threshold of seven-year imprisonment, the accused must now be sent a notice specifying why an investigating officer wants to arrest him and if the investigation requires detention,” Maninder said. “Still, in a lot of cases, no notice is sent. Under the RTI (Right To Information) Act, we have asked the department concerned in Chandigarh to tell us the number of cases in which police issued a notice before making arrest,” Dogra said. “A lot of RTIs were filed even earlier.”
A TSUNAMI OF DIVORCE
Maninder Singh said: “The rate of separation and divorce in the age group 25 to 35 is alarming. The maximum impact is in the IT (information technology) sector, merchant navy, and government service.
The rate of adultery by women is all-time high but law has no provision to convict them. The onus of proving unfaithfulness is on the man and then her beau.”
Dogra said: “There are thousands of cases where a woman cheated in a relationship and then filed for divorce and maintenance money. This is extortion. Even women who earn well are filing false affidavits in the court to seek maintenance. Indian men are being treated as ATMs. A man ends up paying alimony 95% of the time, even if he doesn’t want the wedlock to fall apart,” Said Ravi Mehra, a software professional whose marriage broke in 10 months.
MAN OR ATM?
It was a love marriage. Mehra said: “The girl’s family was not so well to do, although she earned more than me. She had two sisters. I ended up paying for my marriage and supporting my inlaws as well. The big fat Indian marriages are getting fatter by eating up all your savings. After marriage, I had to join a company in Germany. I came back after 10 months and had stayed with my wife for only a week when she filed a case saying I had demanded dowry at the time of marriage. She demanded Rs 60 lakh.” “After evidence in mediation committee went in my favour, she has offered to settle for Rs 10 lakh. Her family still wants alimony,” he said.