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17 Aug, 2009 06:56

Saving Indian men – from their wives

Indian men are claiming laws that shield women from domestic violence have given the fairer sex too much freedom of hand. Husbands who say they’re being harassed by their wives are campaigning for legal protection.

India is considered a male-dominated society, but the tables seem to be turning. Men are increasingly complaining of harassment by their wives, who they claim are misusing the strong Indian laws against domestic violence.

“What about us?”

The Save Indian Family Foundation is the largest group working for men’s rights in India, with around 30,000 members. They say the Indian legal system is biased against men.

“India has some oppressive gender-biased laws, like Section 498, commonly called the Anti-Dowry law,” said Wasif Ali, coordinator of the foundation.

“And two years back, the Domestic Violence Act was implemented. These two laws are so heavily-biased and give so much power to the wife, that when there is a marital dispute, they use these laws as a tool to harass you and your family”.

Ali believes that in the case of the newly-introduced laws, it’s all about women’s rights and man’s responsibilities.

Lives ruined by wives

Thirty-seven-year old Raj Kochar says his wife’s family had been taking money from him. When he said no to her demand for $4,000, his wife left him, and accused him of demanding dowry.

“My business has been ruined,” Kochar said.

“Firstly, this family dispute, and then, how long can I keep making rounds of the courts? My sons have been taken from me, my wife has left me, my business has closed. What have I left? Only me. And I don’t know when I will die. I hope God takes me away soon”.

According to the Save Indian Family Foundation, the number of men committing suicide because of harassment is double the number of women committing suicide. Around 120,000 harassed husbands are believed to have committed suicide in the last four years.

Kamal Vikram, an activist from the foundation, said that if a husband beaten by his wife approaches a police station, people will make fun of him.

“Nobody is going to believe that a woman can beat a man or harass him in any way,” explained Vikram.

“Whereas on the other hand, if a woman approaches a police station or a court, everyone believes her – they don’t need any evidence. In the case of a man, even if you have evidence, nobody is going to believe.”