Florine Roche
Daijiworld Media Network

Mangalore, Aug 22: “All women are victims and all men are aggressors” - this   was the global trend until feminist movement of the late 60s and early 70s led to a change in the mindset and then in the treatment of women by the men folks.  However, in the 21st century it looks like there is a role reversal though not to the extent of what was witnessed a century back.   These days we come across many instances of men committing suicide unable to bear the combined onslaught of harassment from their wives and their in-laws families.   

Statistics too reveal that in India the number of married men committing suicide has doubled as compared to married women and this ratio of harassed men committing suicide  is four times high in the US. 

In the last few years Karnataka has been witnessing a sharp increase among men who resort to the extreme step of committing suicide.  The incident of suicide by KAS officer S R Ravikumar of Kolar had hanged himself in the first week of August this year and the police arresting his wife Sukanya on charges of abetment to suicide had grabbed media headlines. 

A week after Ravikumar’s suicide a Bangalore-based business consultant father of a one year old child Santhosh Reddy   hanged himself after coming home from a shopping spree.   Frequent fights between the couple is said to be the reason for Santhosh  (32) taking such an extreme step.  There are many Ravikumars and Santhosh Reddys in Karnataka who are exceedingly receptive to putting an end to their lives rather than live a life of daily hell.  Such incidents rather paint a grim picture of the situation reaching a disquieting proportion.
Abetment by wives

As per the statistics in  Karntaka 8596 men committed suicide in Karnataka in 2012 as compared to 4519 women for the same year.  The same trend continued in 2013 also as per the statistics available for the first two months of 2013.   About 1396 men committed suicide in these two months as against 456 suicides committed by women.  In most these cases it is women who are accused of abetment to suicide by men. 

Statistics also reveal that it is the educated men who are prone to commit suicide when faced with harassment from their wives.  Men employed in MNC’s, Software Companies, BPO’s etc., are more prone to suicide as compared to others.  Stressed as they are in their place of work,  any further burden in the form of harassment only adds to their cup of woes driving them to suicide.

According to experts the misuse of some of the gender biased laws towards women is the main culprit in driving men to take the extreme step.  Dowry harassment and cruelty laws and Domestic Violence Act which were originally meant for protecting women, are misused by some women. 

There are loopholes in all laws and women naturally have discovered several of them in the existing Indian judicial system.  They are using them to harass all or most of the husband’s family that includes mothers, sisters, sisters-in-law, elderly  grandparents, disabled individuals and even very young children.

Many husbands are almost captive in the hands of such wives who don’t hesitate to misuse these laws through specious complaints.   Many wives harass men only to speed up the process of divorce and continue to bleed the men dry even after divorce as an act of vindictiveness, until nothing is left for them to lead a decent life.   These hapless men are harassed and forced to meet unreasonable demands of their wives, have to endure their unruly behavior and are falsely implicated in legal cases.  This is an emerging social evil and gender biased laws which discriminate against men pave the way for increased injustice in the society, as happened with the Domestic Violence Act.  As per this act only women are allowed to file a complaint against men   which is unreasonable considering that 42% of the victims who commit suicides in matrimonial disputes are men, according to source from Ministry of Home Affairs.

Men usually commit suicide as they are unable to face the humiliation suffered that comes as a baggage with the complaint of dowry harassment that includes a few days of arrest, loss of job in certain cases, humiliation in the society, the harassment of his family members and a big question mark on their reputation. Having faced humiliation these men prefer to die rather than going to jail or attend court case and living in disgrace.  Those who choose to face the problem live under the constant threat of imprisonment hanging like a Damocles Sword.  

Gender biased laws

Gender biased laws were prevalent the world over especially with regard to alimony.  Alimony has been the most dreading factor for men to come out of tumultuous marriages and violent wives in US and European countries.  Alimony has ruined many a million men the world over financially, economically and socially leading to high suicides among men. 

However, internationally there is a major shift in the mindset of people towards alimony laws and some countries have even eliminated “lifetime” alimony laws.  A lot has been done in these countries by men’s rights activists and men’s rights organizations to bring about some semblance of change or to go in for gender neutral sexual harassment laws.

Paradoxically, the alarming suicide rate among men in India has never been able to strike the right chord with the sensibilities of the society.  So much so, the situation has not warranted even a knee-jerk reaction from any one.   There is a general feeling that legal authorities and the administration are biased towards women in our country to such an extent that they are totally oblivious of the hardship, mental torture, anguish and public ignominy suffered by men. 

This is evident from the fact that our country is still bent upon importing one-sided anti-male laws which suits its gender agenda and political machinations.  India had brought Violence against Women act from USA and implemented it as Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act in 2005.   But it has many loopholes and even the Supreme Court has observed that the Domestic Violence Act is full of loopholes and needs to be rewritten. Certainly, the court has been sensitive enough to anticipate the probability of its misuse.   However, the government also has plans to introduce a new law to seek divorce on a new ground through Marriage Laws amendment bill, which is going to further add to the misery of men. 

In the event of abuse men in India don’t have any legal recourse.  Even if harassed men take legal recourse, it is going to be a   Sisyphean task for them to come out unscathed keeping their morale high.  What is even more pathetic is that even after divorce men continue to face harassment from ex-wives on diverse grounds, enough to make a sane man insane.  

Having learnt a bitter lesson some men has formed Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF) in 2005 to fight the cause of Indian men.  SIFF is networked with Helpline telephone numbers in Bangaloe, Chennai, Cochin, Delhi, Gujarat, Mumbai Nasik, Surat, Kolkotta and other places for distressed husbands and their family members. 

The misuse of law in India is emerging as one more social evil further threatening the very fabric of our family life.  One wonders how long the sufferings of the men and their families would go unnoticed or unheard in our country.   How many more precious lives will have to be lost before steps are initiated to restore sanity and justice to harassed men and their families?

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