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:
- How many times did a man interrupt a woman and how many times did a woman interrupt a man.
- How many times was a sarcastic or otherwise derogatory comment made by a woman to a man and a man to a woman.
- 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.
- 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"