(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,
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