Debunking Men’s Rights Activists claims

There is no doubt every law can be misused, particularly in a state where enforcement is haphazard at best. At the same time, the continued disinformation campaign by the supposed “Men’s Rights Activists” (a false term, explained later) that the 498a is mainly a tool to victimize men is false, from all the data I have come across. This post rubbishes some claims I came across today.

Before getting into the data, I first want to clarify that I do not think that men are never oppressed by women. Nor do I believe that all women are innocent. Also anyone dismissing my views for being “feminist” in the interpretation of unfairly prejudiced in favor of women would do well to focus on the content and respond to it, because I have never hesitated to take the side of men I believed to be wrongly accused by feminists. The latest being the Tarun Tejpal episode.

I call the “Men’s Rights Activists” BOGUS for several reasons. To begin with, they have little to do with the rights of men and their focus is on men wrongly accused under laws they believe to be biased in favor of women, chief among these being the 498a which provides women valuable protection against domestic abuse. To the best of my knowledge, Men’s Rights Activists have largely ignored most other abuse against men, including male on male rape or other sexual abuse, which is an serious area which has voice neither in law nor social activism.

Further, the activism cites a handful of cases and uses them as a premise for claiming that most cases of domestic violence are false, completely ignoring routine news reports of women landing up in hospital or dead – which is kind of tough to fake for framing “innocent men”. The “possibility” of misuse is presented as the factual trend and heavily warped interpretations of statistics are used to create bogus victimhood.

Finally, I want to say I do recognize that there are serious problems facing men, but creating prejudices against already vulnerable women does not help them, it only provides sanction for further prejudice. This is also my motive to aggressively debunk the disinformation. I do not believe it helps anyone and I believe it harms women.

Women are “equally guilty” as men of domestic violence

Facts around us dispute this absurd claim. The number of women in hospitals and morgues alone make a mockery of the idea that men are going through the same at the hands of women. Professor Surinder Jaswal of TISS conducted a study of women admitted to rural and urban hospitals in Thane as Medico-legal cases and found that 53% of them had injuries due to domestic violence.

Men’s Rights Activists conveniently hide behind the pretense that no records are maintained for male victims of domestic violence, therefore their claims must be accepted as fact. However, male victims of assault landing up in hospitals can be tracked. It is one example of official records that are neutrally maintained that can be accessed. Another would be cases filed against wives and husbands for “provoking suicide”, which would give them exact numbers for how many commit suicide because of their wives (another bogus claim, addressed later).

Currently, the data on record does not support this absurd claim, but that doesn’t stop them from claiming it anyway.

Men are physically stronger, but mental violence is equal/worse by women

I challenge any reader of this post to do their own research of family discussions. Videotape it, because you will not believe the results you get. Mark number of times for:

  1. How many times did a man interrupt a woman and how many times did a woman interrupt a man.
  2. How many times was a sarcastic or otherwise derogatory comment made by a woman to a man and a man to a woman.
  3. How many times did a man’s voice not count toward a group decision and how many times did a woman’s voice not count toward a group decision.
  4. Any outright abuse directed at men. Any outright abuse directed at women. (Bad words, swear words, accusations about self-worth like income, character, intelligence, wastefulness, etc)

Then we talk. Mere claims are not enough. Bring data. I have yet to come across a social or family situation where women had the more powerful voice or where women were able to impose their will on unwilling men. So “abuse” becomes rather difficult. I don’t say it is impossible. I have not seen evidence in my life of “equal” on the contrary, I have seen evidence that it would be extraordinarily rare.

Conviction rate as “proof” of a wrong law or misuse

Article in IBNLive quotes a survey by some organization called Hridaya-Nest of Family Harmony and says, “In West Bengal the number of cases under the section has grown exponentially at the rate of 11 per cent in the last two years but the conviction rate has dropped to just 4.4 per cent from 6.3 per cent earlier, as per the survey.” Waitaminit. This is misleading on several fronts.

Firstly, this is no survey data, it is lifted off the National Crime Records Bureau data for the year 2012. The likely reason it hasn’t been identified as such would be curious minds heading over to the conviction rates on theNCRB website and finding out that the conviction rate nationwide (which should have been quoted to challenge a nationwide law) is 15%. From the same table, conviction rate in Uttarakhand is 65%, Uttar Pradesh is 49% and Arunachal Pradesh is 50%. Does the “expert” want to comment on that?

Conviction rate for custodial rape is ZERO percent. Are we to assume that custodial rape does not happen? Conviction rape for Arson is 15.6% Should we assume that people accused of arson are basically framed?

The basic fact of law is that the lack of conviction is not proof of innocence. A conviction may not happen for many reasons ranging from out of court settlements – which are really common, because the relationship is obviously headed for divorce and it is really common to allow the woman a “quick divorce by mutual consent” or fight it out in courts, where she is basically homeless and under dubious social status for as long as it takes, while the husband continues to live in the marital home and control the marital property.

I get a few calls every month about domestic abuse. Some of them complete with assault and terrified kids. That don’t even result in complaints.

Exaggerated claims about maintenance

Here is a quote from that bogus organization. “She can ask you for maintenance under ALL these sections and as per recent judgments; you will have to maintain her at the same living standards that she was accustomed to before marriage or after marriage, whichever is higher. If your wife is the greedy type, she may also ask to increase her maintenance amount in case you get a salary hike even after years of separation! People have even been asked to sell their kidneys to pay maintenance amounts or else go to jail.

In India, 3% of the population pays income tax. Proving the husband’s income to get a share is near impossible. The maintenance is not a default, and the courts have to grant it. Further, the maintenance is nothing remotely like “same living standards” and is more usually betwen 2% and 10% of the husband’s (proved) income. A study of divorced/separated women by the Economic Research Foundation shows that most women go through a drastic drop in lifestyle after divorce or separation. This contradicts your claim that husbands are forced to maintain their wives as per same living standards. About 80% of women don’t file for divorce because they have nowhere to go. Vast majority of the remaining are forced to become dependents with parents or other relatives. 60% of divorces are by mutual consent as reported by Vicky Nanjappa a fairly pro MRA journalist. 46% of women awarded maintenance never get it.

Where is this wholesale persecution of men you are talking about?

10 lakh women have been jailed by 498a

As per the latest available statistics, there were less than 8 thousand women in jails nationwide. This number 10 lakh that gets promoted is about all women arrested since 2001. There is no such thing as wholesale jailing. Accused get bail in most cases. The case may drag on, but no such thing as 10 lakh women languishing in jail. It is no specially worse than other laws.

It is easy to trap and destroy men by sending them to jail for years on the accusation of a woman

Men’s Rights Activists need to get their propaganda straight. What is it? 498a has a low conviction rate, or everyone accused of 498a gets sentenced on the mere word of the woman? Return when you have decided what it is. As for arrested on accusation, it happens with all kinds of crime from IT Act violations to theft. You’ll have to ban the IPC if you want to do this in a fair manner.

There is no proof that men are more violent than women

You gotta be seriously doped for this, but you can check out photo and video footage of mobs, riots, statistics of people arrested for murder, assault, rape, kidnapping, check with bar bouncers how many men and women get thrown out for brawling…. the works. Heck try road rage too while you are at it. What makes you imagine that this gender difference in violence gets reversed once at home?

This post is already too long. Will write another one with more other stuff later.

Basically, there are better ways to help men than harming women. Those who care about the well being of a community will also be found actively helping those in need, not just giving stock examples with little evidence of actual help for people in need. If your “rights” are protected just against a specific target, then your objective is opposing that target, not the rights. The idea that men can rape men and it is not our area of focus, but women must not nag is a bit bizarre to come from “Men’s Rights Activists”

Vidyut

Vidyut is a blogger on issues of National interest. Staunch advocate of rights, learning and freedoms. @Vidyut

8 thoughts on “Debunking Men’s Rights Activists claims

  1. This must be (a part of) what you were referring to last month on Twitter. I have never given much time to your blog before this. I am glad that today I read many bits of it. I owe to you an apology for undue rudeness on Twitter, and another one for picking this up here so late.

    What you have written here has given partial answers and raised some questions. You accept gender neutrality in these laws – a measure that in itself is sufficient for most things wrong in these laws from the male perspective.

    You are more or less right about how the hospital beds of female ward get filled; might be right about the data that experiment about family discussions would yield; but, I think you are wrong about suicides. Indian men undeniably commit more suicides – overwhelmingly more than the women. But men don’t commit suicide due to domestic violence (neither do women, for that matter). Suicide comes with extreme stress and with inability to deal with stress emotionally. So in suicide cases it is not evidence of domestic violence that one should seek evidence for but of mental disorders and emotional cruelty.

    Again, you are right again on one thing here – reason of suicide cannot be and should not be automatically attributed to the surviving spouse. Devanik (with whom I had tagged you on Twitter) had attributed housewife suicides to one single reason, if you remember. His article and his arguments had ultimately tripped me into MRA type activism. After reading your thoughts here, I am convinced that that was another of my mistakes. I was too quick to label you a feminist – and you & others did call it out there (it took me this long to realize). Apologies again.

  2. I dislike feminists as much as I dislike Man-inists (or any new term which might crop up in recent times for mens activists).
    What I like is people fighting for right to be treated with equality, justice and freedom. Whether that be man, woman, child or none of the above, does not matter.
    For individual cases, there may be instances when women are wronged or men are wronged. What a society must make sure is the balance – i.e. there should be enough chance for both the sides to be heard, their logic of arguments be analyzed and justice be delivered fairly without discrimination.
    As men dominate the decision making part of the nation (and many female leaders in power are among the most disenlightened crowd of India), there has to be some bias for women in the justice system so that error can be compensated.
    How much that compensation should be, should be open to logical and healthy debates. But one can not deny that there is and will always be bias against the weak, less-represented minority in any kind of establishment.

  3. I’m not going to comment on the definition of “activism” and neither am I going to make judgments about the motivation of a group that chooses not to pursue a particular issue. Many times on my blog people accuse me of having a hidden agenda with the words “Well, why don’t you write about xyz” or “You deliberately chose to ignore abc” (or whatever the hell). The fact is, we all have our pet issues that we like to talk about and that for some reason or the other, strike an emotional cord with us.

    Whether the people claiming to be men’s rights activists choose to ignore other cases like male or male rape is irrelevant to me. I’m not going to draw conclusions based on the omission of certain issues.

    About 498a, I honestly have neither the data, nor the expertise to ascertain exact statistics of abuse. I fully realize that there are nuances and interpretations. But I have to trust something or someone. In this case, I choose to trust the Supreme Court which I feel despite the stupid decision on Section 377 still has some credibility.

    The SC itself has mentioned that 498a is being disproportionately abused. And in the absence of other information or reason to doubt it, I tend to believe this statement. If more information and analysis comes to me from another sources, I am willing to change my opinion, but as things stand, I will follow the stand of the SC that it’s a badly framed law.

    Sure, all laws can be abused. The difference lies in the variations in percentages and consequences of abuse. If we have a law that changes the procedure of jurisprudence itself (by requiring an arrest etc), then a single abuse of that law is much more serious than an abuse of some other law where certain legal protections are available.

    Also, if a law has 10% false or malicious cases, that in my opinion is too high. It’s a matter of taste of course, but I would rather the percentage be something like 1 or 2%. As mentioned before, it’s made worse by the fact that this law is different from others.

    So all things being equal, I definitely think that from an unbiased neutral perspective, section 498A needs to be modified to prevent abuse.

    1. I agree that 498a needs to be amended as well as the rape laws. There is a need for more stress on proving or at least proving that the circumstances are impossible to prove. Gender neutrality, particularly in rape laws is an urgent need. There is also a need for more specific punishments that judges can’t simply “interpret” to lack of convictions – which is also a big problem with domestic abuse and its conviction rates. This post isn’t about that. It is about disinformation spread that demonizes women. Also I disagree that it is massively misused. I fact, it is underused. The prevalence of domestic violence against women is far higher than cases getting filed. You don’t need a bad law to misuse it. All you need is a false claim. Like I pointed out, there are 0% convictions for custodial rape. This basically means Soni Sori’s examination by AIIMS finding stones in her vagina were a figment of our imagination. There are many, many factors in lack of convictions. Domestic abuse itself is acceptable to many judges regardless of law. When a judge can tell a woman who had been beaten black and blue that this is normal in marriages, as a part of the judgment (no conviction), you gotta wonder what the conviction rate means and where it comes from.

      There is considerable data to show that domestic violence is far MORE prevalent than the complaints. You may also verify this by surveying men and women in your locality.

      As for the statistics on conviction, prevalence, suicides and such, I’ll be doing a post dedicated to them, which is half written, but I’m going out of town, so will publish after 27th.

      I have studied these claims considerably, particularly since many of my stands support men against an overwhelming feminist consensus. But in my view, they do not stand scrutiny.

      1. Like I said, I’m in no position to make an accurate judgment on misuse. Even if I had all the numbers, I don’t trust my ability to interpret them correctly. Since I have a dependable authority to rely on in this case – the SC – I will blindly believe that the law is being abused in the absence of any other unbiased authoritative source telling me otherwise.

  4. Point is suicides of married men. Most men fear they have no support in a system that shames them for a spouse dispute. Feminists have gone overboard in examples like Kurshid Anwar. Feminists can’t sit and not take blame. They have to be responsible even for male suicides. By saying we need other mechanisms, what we then have is mens rights claims saying women are nagging them. Which is ofcourse not the best solution but the only workign solution for men to avoid killing themselves to feminist propaganda. What Mens rights activists are resorting to is a defence which at best can reduce a few more suicides. Any work to reduce male suicides is more than welcome and must be appreciated.

    1. I won’t dispute that feminists do go overboard. More than feminists, media goes overboard.

      That said, the male suicides cannot be proved as related with domestic abuse or 498A. The data simply does not support that. A married man committing suicide cannot be blamed on his wife. This simply is no longer the era of “kalmuhi, tu kharab bad luck leke paida hui”. There has to be evidence of domestic violence implicated in the suicide for that claim, which simply is not there anywhere except MRA imaginations. Media or feminists cannot be held a factor either, considering that there is very little pressure on domestic violence.

      In contrast, there is a considerable link with self-employment and suicide.

      Considering that most of the population spends a good two third of their life married, it is hardly a miracle to have more suicides among married men. The overall trend for suicide is less for women, not just married women.

      It is a bullshit assumption that basically interprets data and assumes absent details to support a conclusion that was made well before the data was even touched.

    2. It is strange that MRAs ignore murder stats for women at the hands of in-laws, but focus on suicide stats without clear indicators of domestic violence. Problem is that without vague data, there is no way to prove men as victims in a marriage as an overall trend. Vague data is necessary, because clear data says opposite.

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