Further to our news about AIMPF(All India Mothers-in-law Protection Forum) submitting memorandum to Chief Minister of Karnataka in which there were statistics of rising male suicides also, there is update on how the State Confusion for Women (SCW) treats elderly women and mothers. As to why we call SCW as State Confusion for Women, please read just one recent incident we wrote about its national level sisterhood NCW. Another clear proof of their confusion is that SCW chairperson says she cannot do anything on policy matters, only individual cases! Really? Doesn’t NCW give recommendations on law-making and such matters at national level? Wasn’t it NCW which said it will go for review about Supreme Court judgment which said “kicking daughter in law is not cruelty under IPC 498a (not that it actually happened in the case)”. Was that about helping an individual woman or about influencing policy on what constitutes an offence under IPC 498a?
News from Bangalore Mirror below (with our emphasis):
Talk of prejudices and stereotypes, and the one that immediately springs to mind is that of mothers-in-law as villains of the piece. Recently, a few of them went to the State Commission for Women’s office to demand a rethink on this, while trying to stress that they too are targets of dowry harassment cases and should be heard as any other woman would be. But they returned disappointed.
A few mothers-in-law charged the chairperson, Manjula C, of giving them the short shrift, making them wonder if only causes dear to daughters-in-law find resonance with the commission. “You would think that a commission for women and its chairperson would be sympathetic to all women, without any bias,” was the chorus of the petitioners who landed up at Manjula’s office recently.
Their grouse: When a few of them went at the appointed hour on April 3 to meet Manjula to discuss what they claimed to be the growing incidence of fabricated cases of dowry harassment, the chairperson sent them on their way in just 15 minutes after having made them wait for a month for an appointment! Instead of giving them a patient hearing, the saas gang alleged that Manjula held forth on “random incidents” and walked out within 10-15 minutes.
When Bangalore Mirror asked for her take on the issue, the chairperson shot back, “These people do not have any patience. If they are so pushy with us can you imagine how they treat their daughters-in-law?”
Manjula went on to plead a hectic schedule for not being able to give time to the group. “I had told them to confirm the meeting the previous day because I was traveling from Hubli. These people insisted on meeting me on Tuesday. I had to go elsewhere and had no choice but to leave the meeting half way through. None of these women came to us with individual cases. They wanted to meet and talk about policy matters which we can’t do anything about.”
Sahira Shiggon, a 58-year-old mother in law who has been fighting four cases filed against her by her daughter-in-law, said, “Every time that we wanted to meet her, we were told that she was busy and did not have time for us.
Finally when Women’s Day celebrations were on at Chowdaiah Memorial Hall in the first week of March, we took out a silent protest till she agreed to meet us. Even then she told us it would only be possible the following month and gave us a tentative appointment on April 3. We kept following it up with her office and they said that there has been no change in the date and we would meet her at 3 pm in the afternoon. We had specifically asked her for an appointment in the afternoon because we wanted her to give us at least an hour. But suddenly on Tuesday morning, her private secretary gave us a call and said that Chairperson had other engagements and could not meet us.”
Since some of the people were from out of town, this sudden change of plans meant a lot of inconvenience for the group. So they asked for the reasons for the cancellation to be given in writing, according to another member of the group. “Immediately the appointment came back on and Manjula’s secretary told us to come over at the designated time. However, she did tell us that we would not get a lot of time with the Chairperson,” said Shailaja Hiremath who was part of the delegation that called on Manjula.
“When we met her, she first went on for five minutes with her own comments about how young girls should not misbehave. When we asked her to let us present our case instead, she kept talking of random incidents. When you have very little time for us, then why don’t you let us speak?” asked another mother-in-law who alleges she has been harassed by her daughter-in-law with multiple cases.
Refuting Manjula’s claim that none of them had “individual cases”, the mothers-in-law gave case studies. Sumitra Muthuswamy and her son Raju said they found it “very disappointing and insulting” that Manjula walked out in the middle of the meeting. “She said she had a live telecast somewhere. She told us to talk to another member and just walked away,” said Raju. His mother Sumitra says she wanted help with her harrowing ordeal.”There was a fight between my son and her over a travel bag which escalated to such an extent, that she actually bit me and broke my finger. I am almost 60 and when we went to the police station to file a complaint, they did not even accept it. After four days of running around, they finally took our complaint by which time my daughter-in-law had already filed a case of dowry harassment. My son had to stop going to work. As a woman, does my harassment mean nothing to the commission?” was her rhetorical query.
The case takes an even more bizarre turn when Raju goes on to elaborate on his wife’s charges. “She has actually accused my 75-year-old father of making sexual advances on her! Section 498 is really being misused and many innocent people are harassed and we have nowhere to go, because of stereotypes. We had hoped that things would be different with the commission, but were really disappointed”
Mamtha Naik, 61, has been slapped with a dowry harassment case by her daughter-in-law and accused of starving and beating her up. “Nobody is listening to our side of the story,” said Mamtha, who hails from Odisha.
“This is pretty much everybody’s story here. The trauma that we have all gone through is unimaginable. It is enough to erase our faith in humanity and the concept of women being the all compassionate mother figures of the world. If we wanted to meet a member of the commission, we would not have waited for months to get an appointment. All we had wanted was some time from the Chairperson and we did not even get that,” says Sahira.
Her parting shot: “Is there really no end to our trauma. Would the commission have treated a daughter-in-law forum like this if they had come with their troubles?”