Families of ‘victimised’ men protest women protection laws

March 29th, 2008 - 7:31 pm ICT by admin  

Pune, March 29 (IANS) Is there misuse of stringent laws meant to protect women? Maybe it is time we listen to the other side of the story. This was the message the Save India Foundation (SIF), an NGO working for the rights of men and their elderly parents, wanted to send across at a meet here. Around 75 families of “victimised” men got together Saturday to protest the misuse of anti-dowry laws and other women protection laws and to demand formation of a men’s welfare ministry and a National Commission for Men (NCM).

Among them were the Das Guptas, a retired couple from Jabalpur, in Madhya Pradesh, who alleged they were being virtually thrown out from their own house in Pune along with their son by their daughter-in-law, who has threatened to file a complaint of ill treatment and abuse with the police.

According to Amita Das Gupta, the mother: “My son and daughter-in-law were staying on rent in our apartment in Balewadi, Empire Estate, since 2003. In October 2006 her parents and sister moved in, showing no intention of leaving.

“At our son’s insistence we also came and started living in the two-bedroom apartment along with them. However, on Jan 25, 2007, they started shouting at us and threatened to get us arrested under some women protection act. We got scared and left our own home the next day.”

Ever since, the Das Guptas have been staying in a rented apartment in Kothrud here. Their 32-year-old son, Amitab Das Gupta, after going through an emotional roller coaster decided to revive the Save the Indian Family foundation in Pune to bring out the harshness of women protection laws.

Amitab has managed to bring 75 such men and their families who claimed to be suffering due to the laws. Kalyanji Chandriani, 74, said she too has been a victim. The Chandrianis have been dodging an arrest warrant for a crime they say they never committed.

According to Kalyanji: “The police and the advocates are hand in glove. We want the police to lend us an ear. When it comes to women protection acts nobody wants to listen, they are too eager to put you behind bars.”

Similar is the story of Subhan Rao Kalage, who along with his wife and son had to spend a couple of days in prison because the daughter-in-law drank poison and blamed the parents-in-law for the act. “The next day the police came and took us all and put us behind bars without asking any questions despite us shouting that we had nothing to do with the incident,” says Kalage.

According to Amitab: “We are demanding that Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code that relates to dowry, Domestic Violence Act 2006 and Dowry Act be made gender neutral. The current Domestic Violence Act is being heavily misused as more than 98 percent of the dowry harassment cases are false.

“The National Crime Records Bureau says that in every 10 minutes a husband is committing suicide in India due to domestic violence and financial abuse by the wife and her family,” he claimed.

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