Updated: Dec 3, 2021
Today, while going through the newspaper I was shocked to read that one of our members Ritesh Dwivedi committed suicide! He committed suicide to escape the pain of not being able to meet his beloved daughter Aavya.
No man, no father, no son, ever commits suicide to end life. He commits suicide only to get rid of his sufferings.
Ritesh had too much affection and love towards his daughter, but his wife used to harass him by not allowing him to meet daughter Aavya, despite all possible social efforts. She had also filed a 498A IPC FIR and a case demanding her and her daughter’s maintenance.
Since some time before the Corona period, Riteish was a member of Daman. But due to his health, he rarely came to our weekly meeting, but his father, Shri Suryaprakash Dwivedi, used to often attend our meetings and call whenever there was any problem.
Repeatedly we ask everyone to join and attend our attend weekly meetings, not to show our strength, but because they are not only important for the movement but are beneficial for the members too.
Can such emotional and domestic violence against men be addressed?
Besides criminal provisions like 498A of IPC, there are various provisions in the Domestic Violence Act 2005 to protect women and girls from domestic harassment. But there is no such act or provision in favour of men or boys who might be subject to abuse by anyone in the family.
Domestic violence against women receives significant attention, while domestic violence against men by women goes unnoticed. In India, feminists and hence the government claim that only women are victims of domestic violence. However, an ever-increasing number of men complain that they are also the victims of domestic violence.
Numerous men who are repressed and victims of psychological torture by their wives (or their family members) have approached us through our helpline 8882-498-498 seeking legal advice to somehow continue their family life without harassment.
What prevents us from understanding men can also suffer domestic violence?
India has strict laws to protect women and girls from domestic violence. However, no such legislation is available to protect the rights of men and boys.
Domestic violence is defined as physical, psychological, sexual, verbal, emotional, or economic abuse 'against a woman' of a family by any other member of that family with whom the victim is, or has been, in a domestic relationship, according to Section 3 of The Domestic Violence Act 2005.
This definition itself ignores a man's status as a victim of domestic violence, and hence it violates the Constitutional mandates of Article 14, Article 15(1) and 21. Because the Act excludes domestic violence against males, men are unable to seek legal assistance in the event of abuse by women or other family members.
It is only the Save Indian Family Movement and the NGOs like Daaman Welfare Trust, Men Welfare Trust, Vaastav Foundation and other brother NGOs that addresses the issue by helping innocent men who are victims of domestic violence or have been falsely accused and implicated in some case of domestic violence. The problem that we too face is that men who are harassed at the hands of women almost always prefer to remain remains silent, and avoid speaking in public fearing social embarrassment.
It is considered disgraceful in our culture for males to express their suffering. The fear of seeming 'feminine' or not 'man' enough prevails, and this eventually affects a man, driving him to become distressed and unwilling to express his true sentiments to others.
Exceptions were granted under Article 15(3) of the Constitution, and these exceptions have now become the rule! As a consequence, governments conveniently overlook Article 14, Article 15(1), and Article 21 of the Constitution in relation to men, and as a result, the pattern of permitting women's aggression against men, and just highlighting men’s violence towards women while enacting discriminatory and biased legislation against men has become the norm.
The government must recognise that males are an important section of society who are unrepresented in India's legal system. When gender-based legislations are considered or enacted, only the NCW and WCD Ministry, who are focused on women, are sought for opinion, while men's concerns and challenges are ignored. To address the challenges and concerns of men, gender-neutral legislation, a constitutional body, or a forum are urgently needed.
If implemented, these simple but crucially important and reasonable actions will have two major impacts: institutional acknowledgement of domestic abuse against men and open legislative support. As an outcome, men will have the courage to report whenever abused. More complaints will be made, and there will be more accurate and trustworthy statistical data accessible for future research in this area.