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A reply to Indiatimes: On behalf of all women slandered on International Men’s Day

(Not So)Dear Indiatimes,

I recently came across a post on your facebook page on International Men’s Day titled ““This Is How Indian Laws Are Misused Against Men… So Unfair”, where you have cited certain provisions and percentages relating to Indian Laws.

Your post is not only highly inaccurate and offensive, but also clearly indicates your lack of understanding of gender inequalities or the criminal justice system.

1.) “According to IPC 497, A man can be jailed for adultery, a woman can never.”

Yes, According to the Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) A man can be jailed for adultery, but not a woman. However,  please take a second to actually look at the IPC and understand what it means.

Section 497 states

“Adultery.—Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, is guilty of the offence of adultery, and shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both. In such case the wife shall not be punishable as an abettor.”

What this means is that if adultery is committed by the wife against the husband, he can file a case against the man who was involved, but NOT against his wife. Yet the same criminal protection is not extended to the wife. If the husband is in an adulterous relationship, she DOES NOT under law have the same legal protection and cannot file a case against the husband, or the woman.

If anything, Section 497 of the IPC is offensive to women as it treats women like property “belonging” to the husband, and “stolen” by another man.

2.) “98% of the cases filed under IPC 498A (Dowry Law) are false.”

I would really like to know what is the source of this information?

When you say Dowry Cases, there is the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, and, Section 304-B of the IPC which deals with dowry deaths. Section 498 of the IPC is NOT a dowry law, but deals with cases of cruelty by the husband and his relatives (though it may include cases of dowry).

The NCRB data analysis in 2013 indicated that the number of “false” cases (meaning that the charges were found false or there was a mistake of law) under Section 498A were 6.7 %. To get perspective on why this figure is not alarming, note that in comparison 14.6% cases of cheating or fraud and 13.8% cases of kidnapping were found to be false (a percentage much higher than that for cases of cruelty).

3.) “Every Nine Minutes a Married Man is Committing Suicide in India.”

The author just assumed that married men are committing suicide because of their wives. I fail to comprehend how this statistic makes for gender inequality for men.

On the contrary, and in relation to the preceding point, just two years ago Times of India (which is powered by Indiatimes) brought out a report that one woman dies every hour due to dowry related reasons on an average in the country.

4.) “98% of Domestic Violence cases registered against men are fake”

This claim appears to be unfounded, if not fabricated given that there are no credible sources backing it. In view of the NFHS survey results, it becomes even more obvious as to why the 98% claim lacks severely in credibility. According to the NFHS Survey III, 40% of married women have faced domestic violence, and the percentage is higher in rural areas.

5.) “In India, Criminal Lawyers have a template of IPC 498(A) ready. They just change the names of family members, and a FIR is ready. “

I wonder if the author actually visited every criminal lawyer in India, and had a majority of these lawyers admit that they have such a template. Not only does this seem to be a specious anecdotal claim, the existence of such templates in no shape or form invalidates the problem of abuse and cruelty towards wives by husbands and in-laws.

6.) “According to IPC 354 any woman can send a man behind bars by a simple verbal allegation.”

There are numerous problematic and outright false claims here. Let’s deconstruct this one by one.

Firstly, there appears to be confusion between  Section 354A of the IPC and Section 354 (which relates to Assault or Criminal Force to woman with the intent to outrage her modesty). Section 354A(1)(iv) says that a man making “Sexual coloured” remarks shall be guilty of the offence of sexual harassment.

Let’s assume that there are “simple” remarks for which women are putting men behind prison for it. All women who have sexually coloured remarks directed at them (which I can safely assume is a large chunk of our female population) are going through the tedious process of filing a criminal complaint, just to put men behind bars for no reason? These women go through the ordeal of visiting police stations and courtrooms, and prove that the remarks were directed at them and they were in fact sexually coloured? In a country where police regularly refuse to file rape cases despite mounting evidence, this claim is beyond pale in its dishonesty. Assuming such a case is indeed filed, then too  their devious plan may not succeed because the punishment could be simply a fine, and not necessarily imprisonment. And, this is without taking into consideration the challenges one faces (specially women) while dealing with the Criminal Justice System where even serious cases including dowry related murders take months, if not years to even prosecute. So, even if “simple” remarks were made at the woman, how exactly was is simple to put him behind bars?

7.) 53.2% of rape cases filed against men are false.

Again, where is this percentage coming from?

No government statistics (including NCRB reports) indicate that there have been such a high number of “false” cases.

In fact, the number of rapes being reported has only increased over the years.

Let me point out here that in a rape case it must be established in the court “Beyond all reasonable doubt” that the accused had in fact committed the rape. What that means is that if the court even has an iota of doubt regarding his guilt, he is let off.

8.) If a wife decides not to cook, and to eat at a restaurant the man cannot afford, he can be barred under the Domestic Violence Act for “not providing food”.

There is no such thing within the law except in the mind of the reporter/author.  Section 3 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (PWDVA) which defines domestic violence has no such provision under law. In fact, when Section 3(iv) defines “economic abuse” it categorically uses the word “necessity.” Is Indiatimes suggesting that eating at a restaurant is a necessity as interpreted by the Indian judiciary? It would be helpful if there can be any case law citations to back up such a ludicrous hypothetical accusation. Implicit here is also the assumption that it is women that cook and men who take women out to restaurants.

9.) A man cannot prevent his wife from meeting her lover. If he does, he can be charged under the Domestic Violence Act.

Again, which Act are you looking at? Section 3 does not even come close to including this in the ambit of domestic violence.

Moreover, did you not refer to the adultery laws earlier on?

You seem to have focused quite a bit on the false complaints filed by women. Yes, there are some cases which are filed which may be false. But, then there are false cases under theft, hurt, etc. The criminal justice system even provides for criminal action for filing of “False charges of offence made with an intent to injure” under Section 211 of the IPC. So, I do not understand how you can trust the criminal justice system regarding criminal proceedings in all other matter, but you distrust it when it comes to matters where they protect rights of women?

Yes, men are affected by notions of gender, with standards of patriarchy and masculinity holding them back, and affecting them as much as they hold women. The reporter(s) in this case clearly are wanting in their understanding of the women’s rights movement and the laws that have been instituted because of the movement. This movement has not tried to blame individual men, but the society and its systems which create gender inequalities for ALL genders. Even the laws which do exist for the protection of women have seen very few success stories, and statistics time and again point to the fact that the number of cases of violence against women filed are a mere fraction of the violence actually taking place.

You have  outright blamed not just women who you think are “taking advantage” of the system, but ALL women, and the criminal justice system. I have seen your post on my newsfeed several times today, and find it appalling and shocking that people will share without so much as verifying its contents. It is even more appalling that a media outlet that plays such a large role in forming the opinions of such large numbers, can so rashly and negligently circulate dangerously false information.

Perhaps on International Men’s Day Indiatimes ought to educate itself as well as all Indian men to celebrate and be thankful for how privileged they are.

From a woman living in your unequal world,

Tusharika Mattoo

Editor note: This post was originally published on the author’s blog.

Also check out our article examining the roots of 497 in the code of Ur-nammu

About the author

Tusharika Mattoo

A final year law student at the Faculty of Law, Delhi University and works as a Research Associate at the Law Offices of Ms.Shomona Khanna. She has also done her M.A. in Social Work from TISS, Mumbai, and is a co-writer for the legal blog "Legal Monocle".

8 Comments

  • Hi,
    The moment I saw the post on my wall which you referred here the first thing I did was to check the source and then where is the data collected from. And I landed here on your eyeopening article. Yes, there are false cases against men especially under PWDVA. I am a witness of a case because it has happened to my brother who actually made attempt of committing suicide. He had to spend a week in the psychiatry department of RML Hospital. It is a perception of people and even lawyers say that it is a widely abused law. So the post that was withdrawn was based on that perception. I appreciate that you replied in great detail. Even I always ask women to oppose such laws or provisions like adultery and alimony that treat women as men’s property. You can throw some light on alimony and educate me if I am wrong.

    I sincerely thank you for your efforts of replying the post misinforming people.

    Regards

    Praveen

    • Dear Pravin,

      Like I said, I am not denying that false cases are filed, and it is extremely sad and disheartening that they do. I am sorry to hear that your brother, and your family, had to go through such an ordeal. In my opinion, false cases destroy everything that the women’s movement has worked so hard for, and are an insult to them. And then again, the criminal justice system is misused all around my miscreants.But, I would like to just say that there is definitely a tendency to mistrust women as well, given our society.

      I don’t think it completely fair to remove alimony laws. Please understand the social scenario that requires these laws. Majority of woman have no agency, or even means to support themselves. It is not just that they may not be employed when married, but a career or even a job is not something that they are allowed to have (or even wish to have) from the very beginning. And even where they do have them, they are made to give them up, or prioritise them after their family, and husband’s career. In such a situation if the husbands leave them, or they choose to leave the husbands, more often than not the parents of the girl also refuse to support her, or even give her a place to live. It can be extremely challenging, and disheartening for a woman to be in such a situation.
      The courts are supposed to take all factors, including the woman’s ability to support herself prior to deciding if (and how much) alimony should be.

      My letter is simply a reply to what Indiatimes had posted. It is definitely not an analysis of all women related laws, and that requires a lot more space, discussion, and even expertise.

  • Dear Author,

    Thanks for an article that provides insights like these. Our nation and society needs many more articles like these & discussions like these. However I have a few contentions. Please have a look at them. Since sooner these thing clear out, the better it is for all of us, I hope to get a reply for someone about these:

    //If the husband is in an adulterous relationship, she DOES NOT under law have the same legal protection and cannot file a case against the husband, or the woman//

    As far as I know, a wife can file a case under 498A, which is far more stringent than 497.

    //“98% of the cases filed under IPC 498A (Dowry Law) are false.”
    I would really like to know what is the source of this information?//

    Most of the lawyers, across the states, cities and courts; through their experience agree on this figure. Here are 2 links:
    https://www.quora.com/What-percentage-of-dowry-and-rape-cases-filed-in-India-are-genuine
    https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-percentage-of-fake-dowry-and-domestic-violence-cases-in-India

    //The NCRB data analysis in 2013 indicated that the number of “false” cases (meaning that the charges were found false or there was a mistake of law) under Section 498A were 6.7 %. To get perspective on why this figure is not alarming, note that in comparison 14.6% cases of cheating or fraud and 13.8% cases of kidnapping were found to be false (a percentage much higher than that for cases of cruelty).//

    498A puts burden of proof on the accused, which means: only when the accuser is proven completely false, the accused can be let off. Also that percentage: 6.7% is the one where the court prosecuted against the accuser; in other cases the court refrained from prosecuting the accuser, because either the court wanted to stay away from discouraging the genuine complainers, or the accused in 498A were too tired making rounds of the court & getting harassed, that they no longer wanted any “Adalat ka jhamela”.

    //53.2% of rape cases filed against men are false.
    Again, where is this percentage coming from?//

    here it is:
    http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-53-rape-cases-filed-between-april-2013-and-july-2013-false-delhi-commission-of-women-2023334
    some more references here, do not put figure to 53%, but indicate at high number of “falsehood” in such cases:
    http://www.firstpost.com/india/72-rape-accused-mumbai-boyfriends-victims-1823653.html
    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/Rapes-womens-abductions-in-Mumbai-rise-sharply-this-year/articleshow/47321610.cms

    However I have no data to show, how many rape cases heard in court are declared false by the court, or how many of them are genuinely false.

    //Let me point out here that in a rape case it must be established in the court “Beyond all reasonable doubt” that the accused had in fact committed the rape. What that means is that if the court even has an iota of doubt regarding his guilt, he is let off.//

    As far as I know, here is the procedure followed in rape case:
    1st: A woman files a case & some medical examination is done.
    2nd: Her statement is recorded in front of a magistrate, and this statement-before-magistrate is treated as an evidence.
    3rd: It is now on the accused to prove his innocence. He has to produce an evidence (usually a verifiable alibi) that he was not there & then when the rape happened. Even if it is proved he was then & there, is declared guilty & punished (It does not matter whether he has proof that he did not commit rape). The witness of the accuser is considered as an evidence in this case to prove that he was there at that time.
    4th: If he has got a reliable evidence that he was not then & there, then DNA/fingerprint(FP) match is used as a corroborative evidence. If DNA/FP matches, then the accused in guilty, irrespective of whether the DNA/FP match is a result of a consensual act.

    If you look at the procedure it is clear that:
    1. The accused is guilty till proven innocent.
    2. The burden of proof is on the accused.
    3. Her word is always more reliable than His word.
    So your statement that “if the court even has an iota of doubt regarding his guilt, he is let off” is not plausible.

    Please post the correct procedure, if I have made any mistake in it.

    //A man cannot prevent his wife from meeting her lover. If he does, he can be charged under the Domestic Violence Act.
    Again, which Act are you looking at? Section 3 does not even come close to including this in the ambit of domestic violence.
    Moreover, did you not refer to the adultery laws earlier on?//

    Restricting a woman’s movement in any way is domestic violence. Adultery laws have got nothing to with it. Any clause in adultery law does not give a husband any right to restrict her movement.

    //If a wife decides not to cook, and to eat at a restaurant the man cannot afford, he can be barred under the Domestic Violence Act for “not providing food”.

    …Section 3(iv) defines “economic abuse” it categorically uses the word “necessity.” //

    “not providing food” is “physical abuse”, not “economic abuse”.

    //“According to IPC 354 any woman can send a man behind bars by a simple verbal allegation.”

    There are numerous problematic and outright false claims here. Let’s deconstruct this one by one.

    Firstly, there appears to be confusion between Section 354A of the IPC and Section 354 (which relates to Assault or Criminal Force to woman with the intent to outrage her modesty). Section 354A(1)(iv) says that a man making “Sexual coloured” remarks shall be guilty of the offence of sexual harassment.

    Let’s assume that there are “simple” remarks for which women are putting men behind prison for it. All women who have sexually coloured remarks directed at them (which I can safely assume is a large chunk of our female population) are going through the tedious process of filing a criminal complaint, just to put men behind bars for no reason? These women go through the ordeal of visiting police stations and courtrooms, and prove that the remarks were directed at them and they were in fact sexually coloured? In a country where police regularly refuse to file rape cases despite mounting evidence, this claim is beyond pale in its dishonesty. Assuming such a case is indeed filed, then too their devious plan may not succeed because the punishment could be simply a fine, and not necessarily imprisonment. And, this is without taking into consideration the challenges one faces (specially women) while dealing with the Criminal Justice System where even serious cases including dowry related murders take months, if not years to even prosecute. So, even if “simple” remarks were made at the woman, how exactly was is simple to put him behind bars?//

    The word “simple” here does not refer to the simplicity of the remarks allegedly made at her, but the simplicity available to her in filing such allegations.
    Any accusation, if it is false, is always simple for the accuser, even of the accused has to pay only fine.
    In case of the false accusation, whether the accused gets fined or jailed, the accuser just wants to hurt, and either jail or fine serve this purpose.
    Even ISIS people took the tedious process of going all the way to Paris to attack the so called “infidels”, that does not mean that people labeled by them as “God’s enemies” are “God’s enemies”! For a false accuser this tedious process is not tedious, as he/she has everything to gain from it.
    Police do NOT regularly refuse to file rape cases (in fact, whenever they did, it made it to the head lines). And ALL the policemen I know are always waiting for women to make complain & take immediate action on it.

    But it is definitely a trauma over trauma for someone whose allegations are true.

    • Darn, just when I was thinking that it might be okay to get married…
      I am hoping to see comments from the author to contradict you and set my mind at ease again, though the lack of any comments from her does not give me much hope.. Oh well.. Nice write up, BTW..

    • I dont know why the author could not solve your queries but i’ll try doing that.
      1. 498A is about subjecting wife to cruelty by husband or in-laws. It does not include adultery. Adultery by husband or wife only a ground for divorce. Adultry is cannot be a ground under 498A. 498A is specifically for cruelty. Only the husband can file case against that man for harming his property. No such right is given to wife against other women.

      You posted just another piece of crap. The NCRB report nowhere mentions that how many cases are fake. it just releases the report on the number of aquittals. Yes a large number of cases are fake; but for god’s sake stop calling it to be fake cases (I know the almost the whole everyone believes this). The percentage people keep using are actually the acquittals; but acquittals does not imply that the case is fake(or even genuine). Acquittal means freeing someone of the charges.It means the prosecution could not prove the charges beyond all reasonable doubts. It mostly due to lack of evidence, absence of parties, hostile witness and uncountable reason. Almost 90% of acquittals are due to witnesses or victims turning hostile. Generally the reason for them turning hostile is the unholy combination of money and muscle power, intimidation and monetary inducement, another major one being the absence of police protection during and after the trial. The witness is afraid of facing the wrath of convicts who may be well connected. Another reason is the inordinate delay in disposal of cases. It protracts the witnesses’ ordeal. And ofcourse many are fake cases. I am not saying that fake cases are not being reported but what is being shown to the world that “according to NCRB this Percentage of cases are fake”. NCRB nowhere mention what is fake or real. It just shows acquittals. Its difficult to prove whether its fake or genuine untill and unless we know the person personally. The the people answering the quora questions are not lawyers. They are MRAs(bunch of doctors and engineers giving absurd legal advices sorry they are busy abusing feminists) This might help you http://www.hindustantimes.com/delhi/acquittal-does-not-guarantee-govt-job/story-ion9si8wx3hFzCrcRI46cK.html
      “498A puts burden of proof on the accused, which means: only when the accuser is proven completely false, the accused can be let off”. Who said this??? Rape is the only crime where burden of proof is on accused. under 498A burden of proof is on prosecution(wife). If she makes a statement then the accused will get chance of cross examination. Almost all real or fake is easily won.
      “in other cases the court refrained from prosecuting the accuser, because either the court wanted to stay away from discouraging the genuine complainers, or the accused in 498A were too tired making rounds of the court & getting harassed, that they no longer wanted any “Adalat ka jhamela”. That was so lame and self contradictory. If court wanted to encourage genuine complainers, then the court would prosecute more and more number of accuser. how on earth will the “refrainment from presecting the accuser” will help the encourage the complainers.
      Refer point number 2. The links you have provided are coming from people like you who equated acquittals with fake case. You don’t have data of real and fake declared cases. guess what even court doesn’t have that. yes a large number of cases are fake but it’s definitely not 53% that you have mentioned. It does not includes the unreported cases which is 70-80% rape case and 94-96% Domestic violence cases.
      Refer to point number 2 plus “burden of proof” is on accused but it does not mean that the prosecution does not have to prove anything. even presection has to bring evidences and witnesses. yes you are mistaken in the procedure. There’s examination, cross examination and that alibi, DNA thing is just wrongly presented. The alibi of the accused favours him a lot. Even the defense lawyer examines the testament of victim and its done in most horrible and disgusting manner. There’s few simple step to win a rape case. The accused just proves that the girl is characterless(this can be easily done by buying few witnesses) or she wants money from the accused and he wins the case. It the burden of proof means what you are saying then how there is such a high acquittal rate. the reverse must have been true because proof for innocence is way difficult than proving the guilt. Both the parties has to prove their side. Refer the link provided above.
      Restricting any person’s movement is wrong under the laws. Its called “wrongful restrainment” under section 339 IPC. its not just women. It has been specifically mention about women since its very much prevalant under indian society and the law deals with women. no person can restrain anyone’s movement untill and unless he is authorised under the laws(police etc). Even the women cannot restrain the husband from meeting his lover.
      Husband has to provide her a dignified life. It includes minimum requirements to lead a good life(of course according to the husband’s capacity). It sounds so irrational,illogical that the court will allow a case if the husband does not take her to restaurant. Such issues wont be entertained by court. What’s dignified life is decided according to the economic condition of both the parties. “provide her food” implies means of food and not already cooked food.

      8.Your last paragraph summed up everything about your biased misinformed knowledge about real scenario. You got so jumbled up in your words that its difficult to decipher what actually you are trying to say. Still from the little bit i understood. Its difficult to file such cases because its difficult to prove such cases. Simple means simplicity of remark. Have you heard of zero FIR, Custodial rape. The victims of rape, harassment are even more harassed by the police. The laws have become strict from past 1-2 years. But still its prevalent in towns and villages. You have no clue about this. so i will suggest you to keep yourself informed before to actually puke out anywhere.

  • Oh, in case my previous comment is blocked because it is considered trolling by the moderator (I am not sure whether jokes or sarcasm is allowed in this forum), I will reiterate what I said in a completely serious manner, because this is a completely serious matter to me:
    Could the author please comment on Abhishek Oza’s reply to her article? I ask this because she seems to be knowledgeable in these areas and has a different viewpoint to the common opinion that pro-women laws are too easy to abuse by women.

  • My question to the author is a simple one… from where does one get authentic statistic on violence against men? in India where domestic violence against men is not even considered a crime, and male victims are not even acknowledges.. from where would the official data come? NCRB or for that matter any government organisation has never made any attempt to understand the problem and research on the same thus in absence of official data one has to rely on surveys done by NGOs nationally and internationally working for men/women right and on the incidents reported in newspapers and media which do clearly state that violence against men is a reality and a big issue.
    Currently done Thesis on Domestic Violence against men

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