Thursday, March 11, 2010

Woe Men !

The trigger for this blog, coming at a time when there is all round celebration for passing of the Women’s Reservation Bill in the Upper house of the Parliament, is a mail that my friend Prasanna sent - on what I consider is a very pertinent issue – of sensitizing on Issues faced by Men. He rightly pointed that today gender issues – mean women issues, child abuse means abuse of the girl child.

Media , researchers, and society at large ,while rightly championing the cause of women have by and large turned a blind eye to the issues faced by men. The view that men are the preceptors of (physical and /or mental violence) and that women are the victims is so strongly ingrained in the minds that we simply refuse to acknowledge a possible different reality.

Prasanna’s mail quoted a National Crime Records Bureau data. I ran through the data ( for 2008 – which is the latest) and found some disconcerting facts. In that year, in every 9.44 minutes , one married man committed a suicide (and in every 17.77 minutes a woman committed suicide). 70.56 % of the suicides were by people between 15-44 years of age. The data for this group ( between 15 and 44) indicates the following

• 61.1 % of the people who killed themselves were men
• 3.37% of the deaths were dowry disputes (of which 98 % were women)
• 24.2% of the deaths were due to what has been labeled as ‘Family problems’ – of which 58.8% were men.
• 4.9 % of the deaths were due to economic problems ( labeled as ‘bankruptcy or sudden change in economic status’, ‘professional or career problems’ and ‘unemployment’). Of this, (predictably) 88.99% were men.
• 31.1% have been classified as either ‘cause not known’ or ‘other causes’.

Hence, of the cases, where the cause is known and classified , ‘family problems’ is the largest cause and it looks like more men found it difficult to handle ‘family problems’ than women. (Not surprising ??) ... I wonder what these family problems are ! Suicide is an extreme step …and so wonder how many the silently suffering ones are !

Woe men !!!

A little more ‘googling’ lead me to some interesting sites –, etc , which had lot of information on what is called ‘the draconian’ Sec 498 A of IPC . Passed by Indian Parliament in 1983, Indian Penal Code 498A, is a criminal law (not a civil law) which is defined as follows,

“Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine. The offence is Cognizable, non-compoundable and non-bail able.
Explanation: For the purposes of this section, "cruelty" means
(a) Any willful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical) of the woman; or

(b) Harassment of the woman where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security or is on account of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand

A study by the Centre for Social Research ( with support from IFES and USAID ) in 2005 said, that

‘6.5 percent of the total cases studied through victims' interviews were found false at the level of investigation. Many of the accused, police, judges and lawyers, categorically said that 'educated and independent minded women' misuse the section.

Unfortunately , there is no clear data available on the proportion of false dowry / harassment cases filed against men under Sec 498 A of IPC.

That this section is grossly misused has been acknowledged by the Supreme Court (A division bench of Justices Arijit Pasayat and H.K. Sema on July 21,2005) indicating that these acts are misused to settle scores and warned that misuse of dowry laws could unleash a ‘new legal terrorism’ and advised plugging the loop holes in the law . The Delhi High Court has also raised concerns over an increase in frivolous dowry complaints.

And yet nothing has been done…

Woe Woe Men !!